KABUL – A suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards who were on their way to work at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul on Monday.
The guards were en route to the embassy in a minibus when the explosion took place, according to a Nepalese guard who was wounded in the attack.
The Canadian Embassy in Kabul confirmed what it called a “cowardly attack” on its security company, but noted that there had been no attack on its embassy premises.
The bombing was also condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Today’s attack on security workers in Kabul is appalling and cowardly,” he tweeted. “Our thoughts are with the victims as we stand with the Afghan people.”
The bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus carrying the guards, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the city’s police chief. He did not identify the foreign security company the guards work for.
The Afghan Interior Ministry confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a “terrorist suicide bomber.” It said the explosion also wounded nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.
Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese guard wounded in the attack, told The Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.
“Many people died,” Chhetri said from his hospital bed, his head covered with bandage. “I say to my family, I am ok and I will come home.”
A Tablian spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to the media.
But in a conflicting statement, Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate also claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, identifying the suicide bomber as Erfanullah Ahmed and saying he carried out the attack by detonating his explosives’ belt. The conflicting claims could not immediately be reconciled.
The attack was the latest to hit Kabul as the Taliban have stepped up their assaults as part of their summer offensive.
Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive officer, condemned the attack in a posting on Twitter, saying: “This attack is an act of terror and intimidation.”
In Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, spokesman for Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government is aware of Monday’s incident in Kabul and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing. Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.
Insurgents frequently target buses with government employees — or those perceived to be working for the Kabul government. In late May, a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees during morning rush hour in Kabul, killing 11 people — judges and court employees. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack as well.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a motorbike killed 10 Afghan civilians during morning rush hour in a busy market in a province in the northeast, and also wounded 40 others.
And later Monday in Kabul, a second Taliban bombing killed an Afghan civilian and wounded five people, including a provincial council member who was the intended target of that attack, authorities said.
Afghan President Asharf Ghani condemned all three of Monday’s attacks, according to a statement from the presidential palace.
It quoted Ghani as saying that “terrorists do not hesitate to kill people even during the holy month of Ramadan” and that they are seeking to “create fear among the people.”
— with files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Binaj Gurubacharya in Kathmandu, Nepal.