A Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack Monday on their minibus in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said.
The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy where they work as guards, according to another Nepalese guard who was wounded in the attack.
A Canadian official confirmed to CBC News that the security contractors were en route to the Canadian Embassy. The official said the attack was several kilometres away, and that all embassy staff and officials are safe.
The bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the Kabul police chief. The minibus belonged to the employees of an unnamed foreign security company, he said.
An Interior Ministry statement confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a “terrorist suicide bomber.” It said the explosion also wounded nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.
Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese who was wounded in the attack, told The Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.
“Many people died,” Chhetri said from his hospital bed, his head covered with a white bandage. “I say to my family, I am ok and I will come home.”
Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive officer, condemned the attack in a posting on Twitter, saying: “This attack is an act of terror and intimidation.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.
In Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, spokesman for Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government is aware of Monday’s incident in Kabul and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing.
Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.
The attack was the latest by the Taliban, who have stepped up assaults, including in the Afghan capital, as part of their summer offensive. The insurgent attacks frequently target government employees and Afghan security forces across the country.
It underlined how serious the security threat facing Afghanistan remains since the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike last month.
The blast follows a deadly suicide attack on a bus carrying justice ministry staff near Kabul last month and a separate attack on a court in the central city of Ghazni on June 1.
The Taliban claimed both those attacks in revenge for the execution of six Taliban prisoners.