Five people including a British security guard were killed in Afghanistan yesterday when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into an embassy vehicle.
A second British security guard and 33 others, mostly civilians, were also wounded in the blast in the capital, Kabul. The Afghan driver of the vehicle was among those killed.
Afghan police said a car packed with explosives rammed the heavily armoured British embassy vehicle, exploding on impact and sending a huge plume of dust and smoke into the air.
The mid-morning attack happened on the traffic-choked road between Kabul and the city of Jalalabad.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the House of Commons: “I am deeply saddened to confirm a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the embassy were killed in the incident.
“A second British member of the security team was injured.”
The two Britons were employees of security firm G4S.
Yesterday, a spokesman for G4S said: “At 10:20am local time this morning in Kabul a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device [IED] was detonated targeting a British embassy vehicle moving through the city.
“A local member of the embassy staff and an expatriate G4S security team member were both killed in the explosion. A second British member of the G4S security team was injured.
“An investigation into the incident is under way and therefore we are unable to comment further at this time.
“Next of kin have been informed and we will continue to provide them with support. Our thoughts and most heartfelt condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved in this tragic incident.”
Afghanistan’s interior ministry spokesman Seddiq Sediqqi confirmed four Afghans died in the attack and said another 33 civilians were wounded.
Earlier the British embassy said no diplomats were riding in the car at the time it was hit.
Families of the victims had been informed, his statement said, but gave no further details.
Witnesses said at least a dozen civilian cars were damaged by the blast, and the road was strewn with smouldering debris from the British vehicle.
Video footage showed the roof of the embassy jeep had been blown off and flung about 50ft along the road, an indication it was a powerful blast, as the vehicles are built to withstand substantial impact.
Taleban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
The area of the blast in eastern Kabul has many foreign compounds and international military installations. In recent weeks, suicide bombers have launched attacks on military convoys in the area and on compounds housing foreign service companies and their international employees.
Yesterday’s attack is the first on a diplomatic target in Kabul for some time, as most embassies are secured behind high concrete blast walls with razor wire and guards armed with automatic weapons. The American consulate in the eastern city of Herat was attacked last year and the Indian consulate in the same city was attacked in May this year.
Kabul has come under almost daily attack as insurgents intensify their war on local security forces and United States and Nato troops, who are set to officially conclude their combat role in the country at the end of next month. The bombing was at least the fourth in Kabul since Monday, when two American soldiers were killed in a powerful blast close to the airport.