Twin explosions rock British compound in Kabul

By Amir Shah

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Aug. 18 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Afghan policemen secure the area near a road block formed by security forces on the road leading to the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Twin explosions have rocked the residential area on the west end of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Dar Yasin, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two suicide bombers attacked a British compound in the Afghan capital on Friday, killing at least three people and wounding two, police and eyewitnesses said.

An official from the British Embassy, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident, confirmed that there had been an attack against the British Council building on the west side of Kabul. He said the British Embassy was in contact with Afghan authorities at the scene.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The two blasts occurred in the early hours of Afghan Independence Day, marking Afghanistan's full independence from Britain in 1919. It was unclear whether the attack was related to the anniversary.

Kabul police official Farooq Asas said a suicide bomber detonated a car laden with explosives outside the compound. At least one insurgent attacked the compound on foot, Asas said.

Two Afghan policemen and a municipal worker were killed, he said.

The explosions shattered glass in buildings a third of a mile (half a kilometer) from the site. A reporter for The Associated Press reported gunfire at the scene and smoke rising from the area.

Afghan police said at least one other attacker got inside the compound and was exchanging gunfire with Afghan troops two hours after the initial blast.

Afghan and British troops were dispatched to the scene early Friday morning and made preparations to assault the compound.

The British Council focuses on education and building civil society internationally.

While violence continues to rage in many parts of Afghanistan, attacks in the capital are relatively uncommon. In June, 21 people were killed at a Kabul hotel, including nine insurgents, with militants fighting NATO and Afghan troops for five hours with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bombs.

In western Afghanistan on Thursday, a roadside bomb killed at least 21 passengers traveling on a minibus.

Meanwhile, in the country's east, a suicide car bomber attacked a coalition base Thursday, killing two Afghan security guards, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The minibus ran over a roadside bomb in Obe district in Herat province, setting off a blast that killed 21 passengers, said Gen. Zaiuddin Mamoodi, an Afghan National Police commander for four provinces of western Afghanistan. Twelve of the victims were children under the age of 5, three were women and six were men, he said. Eleven others were wounded, he said.

"It was a big, powerful blast. The bodies are not easily recognizable," said Abdul Bashir, an elder of a village in the district.

Mohyuddin Noori, a spokesman for the province's governor, said the bus was on its way to a bazaar, where the passengers were going to shop.

Noori also said that a small truck hit another roadside bomb Thursday morning in the same district, seriously wounding at least four civilians.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led coalition condemned the bombings.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing at a provincial reconstruction team base that Americans operate near Gardez, the capital of Paktia province. There are more than 20 so-called PRTs across Afghanistan where international civilian and military workers train Afghan government officials and help with local development projects.

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