A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a van into an armoured Nato bus yesterday, killing 13 US troops and four Afghans on a busy street in Kabul in the deadliest attack on coalition forces in more than two months. It was a major setback for the US as it begins to reduce the number of its combat troops in Afghanistan.
The explosion sparked a fireball and littered the street with shrapnel and twisted metal. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage along the four-lane highway in the southwestern section of the city frequently used by overseas troops. The assault occurred on the same day that senior Nato and Afghan officials were meeting elsewhere in Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 17 of the country's 34 provinces.
Saturday's attack broke a relative lull in the Afghan capital, an area where Nato has already shifted security responsibilities to the Afghans. While checkpoints dot the centre of the city, attacks occasionally occur. Many are blamed on the Haqqani network, an al-Qa'ida and Taliban-linked movement which operates from a base in Pakistan. In all, there were three attacks against Nato and Afghan forces yesterday, killing at least 21 people.