Bombers Storm U.S. Aid Compound in Afghanistan

Bombers Storm U.S. Aid Compound in Afghanistan
# 02 July 2010 18:55 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. A half-dozen suicide bombers stormed the compound of a American contractor working for the United States Agency for International Development in the northern city of Kunduz on Friday, killing at least four people before the militants were themselves killed during a six-hour-long firefight, according to Afghan officials, APA reports quoting “The New York Times”.
No Americans were said to have died, according to initial reports.
But as many as three of the dead were foreigners, including a German and a Filipino, according to accounts from the local authorities. British officials were also investigating reports that a British citizen was killed. One Afghan police officer died, and 23 other people were wounded, including police officers, security guards and civilians, said the governor of Kunduz Province, Mohammed Omar.
The Taliban took credit for the attack on the compound of Development Alternatives Inc., a consultancy also known as D.A.I. that contracts with the American aid agency to help bolster governance, development and economic growth in other countries.
The attack began around 3 a.m. when the first bomber exploded his car at the gate of the compound. Five other suicide bombers raced inside the building, where they began firing rifles, Mr. Omar said.
The five other attackers all eventually died inside the building, according to the governor, but he did not make it clear whether they had been shot by Afghan forces or had blown themselves up.
“The building has been destroyed,” Mr. Omar said. He also said six American employees trapped inside along with four security guards had been rescued by Afghan forces. There were unconfirmed reports that some employees fled to the roof of the building during the battle.
The attack came before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the incoming American military commander in Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul on Friday evening along with Mark Sedwill, the former British ambassador to Afghanistan who now serves as the senior NATO civilian official in the country.
General Petraeus, who led American troops in Iraq during the so-called surge in Iraq and had been the commander of the United States Central Command, was picked by President Obama last week to assume command in Kabul. The move followed Mr. Obama’s abrupt firing of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal after a Rolling Stone magazine article in which the general or members of his staff criticized Obama administration officials.
The Kunduz assault was the latest in a string of Taliban attacks on foreign workers and compounds, especially those doing development work, in what has seemed to be a response to American and NATO forces increasing the pace of their military operations throughout the country.
Many of these attacks have come in Kandahar, the hub of southern Afghanistan, were militants have been killing political leaders, foreign workers and their Afghan colleagues, including a young Afghan woman who worked for D.A.I. who was gunned down in April just a few hundred yards from her office as she drive home in a motorized rickshaw.
Kunduz, one the country’s major northern cities, is less volatile than Kandahar. But the province has become increasingly contested over the past year as Taliban leaders have tried to consolidate their control of areas that until recently has been considered relatively safe. German troops have been the major Western military force in the region, but new American troops have been arriving in northern Afghanistan to bolster the NATO presence in Kunduz and other northern provinces.
A NATO statement said the Kunduz attack “was an attempt to intimidate Afghans and members of the international community trying to improve the lives of all Afghans.” It said NATO troops were helping Afghan forces at the site and treating injured civilians at a nearby military base.