KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bomber attacked a small convoy of vehicles Friday near a heavily fortified private residential compound used by hundreds of foreigners on the outskirts of Kabul, killing two passers-by, Afghan officials said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said a suicide car bomber attacked two vehicles used "by foreigners" near the Green Village compound. There were no reports that the people in the vehicles were injured.
A police official said two civilians passing by the site of the explosion were killed by the blast. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Kabul police chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir said that the Green Village was the intended target of the attack.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the car bombing and also said Green Village was the intended target of the attacker. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a car bomb attack had occurred in Kabul and that "there was one enemy killed as a result of the attack."
"We have no operational reports of ISAF personnel fatalities," it said in a statement. Small arms fire could be heard after the initial blast, apparently as guards in the industrial zone where the blast occurred started shooting. An Associated Press reporter there saw fire trucks move to extinguish a blaze started by the blast.
Police initially reported that the residential compound was the target of the attack. The camp houses contractors from various countries, European diplomatic personnel and United Nations employees. It is located on the main highway connecting Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad and is surrounded by layers of blast walls and has dozens of armed guards.
Green Village was last attacked by a suicide car bomber and armed attackers on May 2, 2012, and a number of Afghan guards were killed. None of its residents was injured in that assault. In another suicide attack, a man with a motorcycle loaded with explosives tried to attack an ISAF convoy near Bagram airport, a major facility used by the international coalition located 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Kabul.
The attack failed and no one was wounded, ISAF and the area's deputy police chief, Zemaray Naseri, said. That attack was claimed by the Hizb-i-Islami militant group in a telephone call to The Associated Press in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Hizb-i-Islami is headed by 66-year-old former warlord Gubuddin Hekmatyar — a former Afghan prime minister and one-time U.S. ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The group is a radical Islamist militia with thousands of fighters and followers across the country's north and east.
Insurgents have tried to increase their attacks around the country to try and take advantage of the withdrawal of foreign forces, who handed over security responsibilities to the Afghans earlier this summer. Most of their attacks involve suicide attackers or roadside bombs.
One such attack killed a local police commander and three of his police bodyguards Friday in western Farah province, regional spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhuwandai said. Foreign forces, embassies, delegations and international organizations also recently have increased their security, especially in the capital.
In Berlin, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the German embassy in Kabul has been temporarily closed due to security concerns. De Maziere told the German news agency dpa that there was evidence of planned attacks and "appropriate precautions have been taken" to "protect German nationals." He would not elaborate and gave no date for the embassy to reopen.
Germany has about 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in the north.
Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Kabul, Zarar Khan in Islamabad and Bob Reid in Berlin contributed to this report.