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'Five troops killed in Kabul blast'

Thirteen people killed when a suicide bomber rammed a military convoy in Afghanistan included five coalition troops and eight civilian contractors, Nato has said.

The organisation had initially reported that all 13 killed in the Kabul attack were service members. But after further identification, it confirmed that eight were civilians working for the coalition.

The Taliban suicide bomber hit an armoured Nato vehicle in the deadliest attack on coalition forces in Kabul since the war began.

The explosion, which occurred as the convoy was passing the American University, sparked a fireball and littered the street with shrapnel. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage at the site.

It was reported that 12 of the 13 convoy victims were American, with the other Nato fatality thought to have been a Canadian serviceman. A total of 17 people died in the suicide bombing, with the Afghan ministry of interior saying three Afghan civilians and one policeman were killed.

Eight other Afghans, including two children, were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.

The attack, triggered when a vehicle was rammed into the armoured bus, is a major setback for the alliance as it begins to draw down combat troops.

Underscoring the difficulties ahead, the assault occurred on the same day that top Nato and Afghan officials were meeting elsewhere in Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in all or part of 17 of the country's 34 provinces.

It also was a blow to efforts by the US and Afghan president Hamid Karzai to forge peace with the Taliban as Nato plans to withdraw all its combat troops from the country by the end of 2014, with support for the costly war reaching new lows in the West.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for another suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office in the north-west province of Kunar in which only the bomber was killed. In all, there were three attacks against Nato and Afghan forces, killing at least 21 people.


From Belfast Telegraph