Security worker among dead in Afghan suicide attack

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A British private security worker was among four people killed in a suicide attack on an aid contractor's offices in Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault which left another Briton in a critical condition.

A German and two Afghans were also killed when the offices of US consultancy firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) in Kunduz, in the north of the country, were targeted yesterday morning.

The four, who worked for DAI's security subcontractor Edinburgh International (EI), were hailed as heroes for their attempt to defend the compound.

The attack began at about 3.30am local time when at least five militants wearing explosives vests ran inside the building after a suicide bomber blew up a car outside the DAI's Local Governance and Community Development (LGCD) office.

They were engaged in a gun battle with Afghan security forces for several hours.

Washington DC-based DAI is contracted by USAid to improve governance and community development in Kunduz, which is largely patrolled by German troops.

DAI president and chief executive officer James Boomgard said: "The actions taken by the EI security staff in defence of the compound and project staff were nothing short of heroic.

"We are deeply grateful for their bravery, and for the work they do day in, day out, to make our development mission possible. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased at this terrible hour."

The raid was condemned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan, known as the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

Isaf spokeswoman Captain Jane Campbell said: "This attack shows the insurgents' desire to prevent progress and draws attention to their true goal of serving themselves rather than the people of Afghanistan.

"We remain committed to serving alongside our Afghan partners to improve security and development for all Afghans."

A spokesman for EI said: "Edinburgh International can confirm that a number of members of staff have been wounded and four tragically killed in a hostile incident in Kunduz, while working in support of the international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

"EI have informed the families of the personnel involved, and the company is carrying out an investigation with our clients and the security forces into the circumstances of this very sad incident."

Civilians injured in the attack are being treated at a nearby Nato base.

The Foreign Office said the families of both British men were informed.