Blast outside NATO base in Afghanistan kills at least three

Blast outside NATO base in Afghanistan kills at least three
# 15 August 2009 08:43 (UTC +04:00)
The attack in the heart of the city comes just days before August 20 presidential and provincial council elections.
The blast was at the main gate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and was caused by a suicide bomber, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters at the site.
"It was a suicide bombing carried out in a car right in front of ISAF. So far we have three dead, and 14 wounded, and we have evacuated them to the military hospital," Azimi said.
ISAF could not immediately be reached for comment.
Three or four ambulances could be seen leaving the heavily fortified base, where the force of the explosion had destroyed a large concrete barrier and started a fire, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
"The explosion is in front of the ISAF main gate and it was a suicide attack," a witness also told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Several vehicles have been badly damaged and must have lots of casualties. I could see people lying there."
Also in the area are the embassies of India, Spain, Italy and the United States, and the presidential palace is around 200 metres (yards) away.
The Taliban, who are leading a mounting insurgency, have not threatened to attack the polls but called on Afghans to boycott the election and instead join their campaign for "independence".
It was the first suicide attack on the city in months, after a spate of such blasts last year claimed by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
Eight rockets struck the Afghan capital Tuesday, including one that landed near the US embassy, wounding a man and a child, the government said, raising tensions ahead of the elections.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the dawn attacks, saying its fighters targeted Afghan soldiers and the Kabul international airport.
The city has not seen a significant attack in months but there are fears the Taliban and other insurgents will strike in the lead-up to the August 20 elections.