A suicide attack targeting Italian soldiers building a bridge resulted in the deaths of one soldier and six Afghans, including three children who had gathered to watch the construction Saturday, officials and witnesses said.
Witnesses said the soldiers fired their guns in the air after the bombing, though police denied that account. A doctor said some of the victims were hit by gunfire.
At least nine people, including three of the soldiers, were wounded in the midmorning attack about 5 miles west of Kabul, said Zemeri Bashary, the Interior Ministry spokesman.
Three children were killed and five wounded, said Abdul Razaq, the chief police official in the Paghman area, where the bombing occurred. Six Afghans died in total, he said, not including the bomber.
The Italian Defense Ministry said that one soldier died while being transferred to the military hospital in Kabul.
130 suicide attacks
Afghanistan has seen more than 130 suicide attacks this year — a record number. More than 6,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence in 2007, also a record, according to figures from Afghan and Western officials. International and Afghan soldiers and police are frequently the target of suicide attacks.
Responding to reports some of the dead had been shot, Gen. Zalmay Oryakhail, a regional police commander, said many of the wounded were hit by ball bearings packed in the bomb, which can cause wounds that look like they were caused by bullets.
However, an Afghan doctor told The Associated Press one of the dead men and three of the injured had been hit with bullets. He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.
A pharmacist who said he was driving by the bridge just as the bomb went off said he saw two soldiers fire into the air afterward. “I didn’t see any soldiers fire at the people,” said Abdul Qahir.
Officials from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force could not immediately be reached for comment.
Children often gathered at the construction project to watch the soldiers work, said Qahir. The other victims were gathered at a nearby food stand, he said.