A Taliban suicide attack on a fortified housing compound for foreign workers killed at least seven people as they launched their annual “spring offensive” just hours after Barack Obama had visited the Afghan capital.
Afghan forces battled militants for more than two hours after they attempted to storm the Green Village complex east of Kabul early on Wednesday morning.
The attack began with a suicide car bomb at the compound entrance and continued when fighters disguised in burqas tried to force their way in through the damaged gate.
Gen Ayub Salangi, Kabul police chief, said four civilians in a passing car were killed, a Nepalese guard on the gate and a student on his way to class. A further 17 were reported wounded, including several children attending a nearby school.
Security personnel and residents gather as smoke rises in front of a guesthouse in Kabul after a suicide bomb attack (AFP/Getty Images)
Mr Obama had only hours earlier made a stealthy, night time visit to Kabul where he signed a strategic pact with Hamid Karzai pledging a decade of continuing support to Afghanistan after Nato combat troops leave at the end of 2014.
A spokesman for the Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the attack on a “military base”, saying Mr Obama was “not welcome” in Afghanistan.
The high security Green Village compound, around three miles east of the city centre on the Jalalabad Road, provides housing for hundreds of contractors and foreign officials.
Reports said the attackers had failed to breach the inner defences, but had managed to take an outer laundry building before they were surrounded and killed by Afghan special forces and their Norwegian counterparts.
Gen Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the Nato-led coalition said: “This is another desperate attack by the Taliban, but again another noteworthy performance by Afghan Security Forces for taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents.” Mark Sedwill, Britain’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, added: “Another Taliban attack today. As always, they kill Afghan civilians not foreign troops.” Mr Obama had used his visit to deliver a campaign-style speech to Americans declaring that the decade-long Afghan military intervention was winding down and a new chapter of relations was beginning.
He said that “the light of a new day on the horizon” was in America’s sights after a decade of war, as he capitalised on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death with his surprise visit to Afghanistan.
Amid sharp domestic criticism over his exploitation of the al-Qaeda chief’s assassination for political gain, Mr Obama gave a defiant speech at Bagram Air Base in which he declared it was “time to renew America”.
Under the strategic partnership agreement, America has pledged to train and support Afghanistan’s forces and continue giving economic aid to the country until at least 2024.
Details of how many American troops will remain and which Afghan military bases they will use will be finalised in a separate deal next year.
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