May 16 (Bloomberg) -- A suicide car bomber killed at least six civilians and wounded 35 people in an attack that targeted advisers to foreign troops in Afghanistan as they traveled in a convoy through the nation’s capital.
Hizb-e-Islami, a guerrilla group led by a former Afghan prime minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and allied to the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. The aim was “to kill American advisers,” the group’s spokesman, Haroon Zarghoon, said on the phone from an undisclosed location.
The bomber struck at about 8 a.m. near the house of a member of parliament in the eastern part of Kabul, Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the city’s police chief, said in a telephone interview. The death toll is likely to rise and military advisers are among those injured, Salangi said.
This was the first major blast in Kabul since early March when a Taliban suicide bomber killed nine people outside the Afghanistan defense ministry during a visit to the city by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hostilities by the Taliban and other insurgents escalated in the first three months of the year as the spring fighting season began. Attacks increased 47 percent in the first quarter of the year, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, an organization that provides advice to aid agencies in the country, said in a report last month.
Major Bryan Woods, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, said the incident was being investigated, without elaborating.
President Barack Obama has said a bulk of the 66,000 U.S. forces now in Afghanistan will return home by the end of 2014, after which a smaller number of troops may continue to train and advise Afghan forces and carry out counter-terrorism operations. While he hasn’t yet said how many U.S. troops will remain after 2014, the U.S. has indicated that about 8,000 to 12,000 allied troops are likely to stay.