Taliban bombs Afghan intelligence office as Nato strike ‘kills 15’

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A car bomb was detonated outside an Afghan intelligence office near the capital yesterday by Taliban militants who then tried to attack it on foot with guns, officials and the insurgent group said.

At least four soldiers guarding the compound were killed and six insurgents died in the assault, officials said.

Also yesterday, Afghan officials said an apparent Nato airstrike had killed 15 people – nine of them civilians, including women and children – in a remote eastern province where the Taliban is strong. Nato said 10 militants died in the strike but it had no reports of any civilian deaths.

Both incidents underscored the insecurity in Afghanistan as US-led foreign forces reduce their presence and hand over more responsibilities to Afghan troops.

Yesterday’s bombing occurred in Maidan Shahr, a city in eastern Wardak province that lies just 25 miles from Kabul.

Hazrat Janan, a member of the Wardak provincial council, described the explosion as powerful, saying that it shattered windows in a wide stretch of the city.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the explosion occurred at about 1 pm and that many of the wounded were Afghan government employees working in nearby offices.

Soldiers guarding the compound killed the militants after the explosion, he said. He said four soldiers and five attackers died, in addition to the car bomber.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

Conflicting reports emerged from the airstrike in the Watapur district of Kunar, a province that lies along the border with Pakistan.

The territory is dangerous and difficult to reach, and many Arab and other foreign insurgents are believed to operate there alongside the Afghan Taliban.

Some are suspected of links to al-Qaida.

Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the airstrike hit a pickup truck carrying women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan militants boarded it Saturday evening.

He said some reports called it a drone strike but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that. Of the 15 dead, four were women, four were children and one was the driver, the police official said.

Watapur district chief Zalmai Yousefi confirmed the airstrike and said 15 people were killed, including women and children.

Nato spokeswoman 1st Lt Ann Marie Annicelli said the military alliance carried out a “precision strike” that killed 10 “enemy forces,” but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying.