Foreigners killed in Kabul blast

An Italian and a Frenchman are confirmed among at least 16 people killed in a suicide bomb attack on the centre of Kabul, while there are reports four Indian nationals were also killed.

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Afghan authorities have said 16 people were killed, including Afghans and foreigners, and at least 32 others wounded in the dawn attack.

“An Italian national has also been killed,” interior ministry Zemarai Bashary told reporters.

A Frenchman visiting Afghanistan was among the dead, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.

Indians killed and wounded

An Afghan army doctor said that at least one Indian was killed.

An Indian embassy official in Kabul confirmed that at least six Indians were among the wounded.

One unconfirmed source says four Indians were killed in the attack.

“Two or three of our people cannot be accounted for,” he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The attack took place in central Kabul near the Park Residence hotel, where many of the employees are from India.

The area is known for its shopping mall, the City Centre, popular with wealthy Afghans.

Taliban claims responsibility

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a telephone call to AFP for the suicide bomb attack.

“We claim responsibility,” said Zabihullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the Islamist militia which has been fighting an insurgency for more than eight years.

“There were eight of our people. One of them detonated his car bomb in front of the… hotel, two others also carried out suicide bombings. The rest of our people are still there,” he said.

The Taliban regularly exaggerate the scale and impact of their attacks, which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths in Afghanistan’s long war against the insurgents.