JALALABAD, Afghanistan - A suspected suicide car bomber hit a military bus carrying German troops yesterday in Kabul, killing at least four soldiers and wounding 29 in the most deadly attack on the international security force since its work began 18 months ago, military officials said.
The German defense minister, Peter Struck, said at a news briefing in Berlin that four soldiers had died and 29 had been injured, seven of them seriously, Reuters reported. "A lot of the indications are pointing toward a suicide attack," Struck said. "There was no advance warning whatsoever."
The blast occurred at 8:30 a.m., destroying the bus and flinging body parts and metal across the road. The bus was carrying German peacekeeping troops from their main base on the outskirts of town to the city's airport. The explosion occurred hours before Afghan President Hamid Karzai flew in to the airport from a visit to Britain.
The Afghan deputy commander of Kabul, Gen. Afzal Aman, who arrived at the scene soon after the explosion, said a yellow-and-white Kabul taxi exploded as it drove past the bus. He put the toll at six dead and 11 injured, all German soldiers.
Aman said he had no doubt who was responsible for the attack. "Al-Qaida," he said, "the enemies of Afghanistan." The wreckage of the taxi was on the road close to the site of the explosion, and a witness had seen the car passing the bus when it exploded, he said.
Witnesses described an enormous explosion that raised a pall of smoke and dust. The bus crashed about 100 yards from the blast site into a field of vegetables and wheat. Soldiers with the international security force cordoned off the area, laying out the dead and wounded on the road and gathering body parts in a plastic bag, said Hajji Muhammad Rasul, 45, the owner of a nearby gas station.
Rasul said he saw more than nine dead or wounded soldiers lying on the ground, and he estimated that more than 20 were less seriously injured.
The men were at the end of their tour of duty and on their way to the airport to fly home, a spokesman for the security force said.