Six Italian soldiers among 16 killed in Kabul

A suicide car bomber killed at least 16 people, including six Italian soldiers, in an attack on a military convoy on a road in the centre of Kabul today, the worst strike suffered by Italians in Afghanistan.



The attack caused shock in Italy at a time when European leaders have been scrambling to reassure people sceptical of their countries' roles in an eight-year-old war that has reached its most violent phase.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his government was "close to the families of the victims, sharing their pain in this tragic moment, and expresses its solidarity to all the members of the Italian mission in Afghanistan who are working to uphold democracy and freedom in that unfortunate country".

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent from a telephone number used by a Taliban spokesman.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zaher Azimy said 10 Afghan civilians were killed and 52 wounded.

At the scene, Afghan troops ferried wounded civilians to ambulances near several wrecked Italian military vehicles.

The body of at least one dead Italian soldier could be seen lying in the street in front of an armoured truck that bore an Italian flag. Other body parts were scattered near the scene. The chassis of an exploded car had landed dozens of yards away.

"I was shopping when I heard a deafening explosion," said witness Shah Mohammad, an elderly man at the site of the blast.

Italy's parliament held a minute's silence in honour of the victims but political debate over the mission quickly resumed.

Most of the conservative government and the main centre-left opposition broadly support the Afghan mission. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said pulling out Italian troops "would mean surrendering to the logic of terrorism".

The far left restated demands for an immediate withdrawal.

"The Italian military contingent's presence in Afghanistan is the fruit of a mistaken policy and strategy," said Italian communist leader Paolo Ferrero.

Pope Benedict expressed his "prayers for the victims and solidarity with their families", a Vatican spokesman said.

Public support for the war, which has declined sharply in recent months in Britain and Germany, could suffer. Italians quickly turned against the war in Iraq when 19 troops were killed in an attack there in 2003.

There are now more than 100,000 Western troops in Afghanistan, two thirds of them Americans after President Barack Obama expanded the U.S. contingent this year.

The roughly 2,400 Italian troops have been kept out of the main combat zones in the south and east, although violence has increased in the western areas where most Italians are based.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said he expected Italy would stay the course.

"We have no fears that this attack will trigger an Italian withdrawal from this mission," he said.

The attack took place on a road between the U.S. embassy and the airport, a short distance from the diplomatic enclave housing many Western missions, including the U.S. and British embassies.

Attacks in Kabul itself are relatively rare, but several have taken place in the past two months.

Last week, a Taliban suicide bomber blew up a car outside the main gate of a military base used by NATO troops inside Kabul's only airport. In August, a suicide car bomber struck outside the main NATO headquarters in the diplomatic district in the capital.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home