Two American soldiers among 15 killed in Kabul suicide bomb attack on Afghan Nato convoy

Muslim militant group Hizb-e-Islami have claimed responsibility for the early morning attack

US officials have confirmed that two American soldiers were among 15 people killed in a suicide bomb attack on a Nato convoy in the Afghan capital of Kabul today.

An Islamic militant group, Hizb-e-Islami, has already claimed responsibility for the attack, which also killed four contractors and nine Afghan civilians, saying it had formed a special "martyrdom unit" to attack foreign troops.

At least two children are thought to be among the dead.

Body parts could be seen littering the scene of the blast, which was reportedly large enough to rattle buildings on the other side of the city. One coalition vehicle was reduced to a mangled pile of metal.

Kabul provincial police spokesman Hashmad Stanakzi said the suicide bomber attacked at about 8 am with a car packed with explosives. "The explosion was very big. It set the nearby buildings on fire," he said.

The car reportedly hit the convoy as it passed the home of an Afghan politician. Two children are said to be among the dead.

The deputy chief of police, Daud Amin, said it was difficult to immediately estimate the number of dead because of the state of some of the victims.

"We saw two dead bodies of children on the ground," he said. "But the rest of the bodies were scattered in pieces around."

Two Kabul hospitals had earlier reported that at least six dead and 37 wounded were brought in from the scene, but that the toll could increase.

A spokesman for Hizb-e-Islami, Haroon Zarghoon, told The Associated Press news agency that one of the movement's operatives carried out the attack on what he described as two vehicles of American advisers.

He claimed that most of the American advisers were killed and their vehicles destroyed.

Zarghoon says the militant group has formed a new cell to carry out suicide attacks on US and other coalition troops.

"The cell had been monitoring the movement and timing of the American convoy for a week and implemented the plan Thursday morning," Zarghoon said.

He claimed the cell was established in response to alleged American efforts to keep permanent bases and troops in Afghanistan even after the full Nato withdrawal.

The announcement could signal an escalation of actions from the northeastern-based group, which is a fierce rival of the Taliban.

The US has repeatedly said it wants no permanent bases in Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014, but President Hamid Karzai raised eyebrows last week when he announced he had agreed to an American request to keep nine bases. A smaller American force is expected to remain in the country to assist Afghans in keeping security, but the exact configuration of their work has not yet been decided.

Hizb-e-Islami is headed by 65-year-old former warlord Gubuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister and one-time US ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers across the country's north and east.

Hekmatyar, who was heavily financed by the US during the 1980s occupation of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, has been declared a terrorist and is being hunted by Afghan and Nato troops. US bombs have targeted his military chief Kashmir Khan in Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan.

However, Hekmatyar's son-in-law has also held peace talks with both Karzai and also American officials. In a further sign of the complexities of the Afghan insurgency, Hizb-e-Islami is also a rival to the Taliban insurgency, even though both movements share the goal of driving out foreign troops and establishing a state that would follow a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Hekmatyar and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Omar, in particular, are said to share personal animosity.

Thursday's attack was the second in eight months claimed by Hizb-e-Islami. In September, the militant group claimed responsibility when a female suicide car bomber killed least 12 people. At the time, Hizb-e-Islami said the attack was revenge for the film "Innocence of Muslims," which was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen and infuriated Muslims abroad for its negative depiction of the Prophet Mohamad.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin