KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber struck in the Afghan capital early Monday morning, targeting a bus full of foreign security contractors.
At least 14 people were killed and eight others wounded, said Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry.
The majority of the victims were citizens of Nepal, he added.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to media organizations.
“This attack is an act of terror & intimidation,” wrote Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, in a message posted on Twitter.
Hundreds of Nepalese security guards provide protection at diplomatic compounds like the sprawling, heavily-fortified U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
An embassy spokesperson said the victims of Monday’s attack were not tasked with guarding the U.S. Embassy.
A rash of kidnappings and Taliban bombings have heightened security fears in Kabul. U.S. and other diplomats are barred from traveling by road the short distance from the city’s international airport to their diplomatic missions. Instead, they are ferried by helicopter.
Meanwhile, the fourteen-year war against the Taliban in the countryside is as bloody as ever.
After a large surge in forces during the first years of the Obama administration, the U.S. has reduced its military deployment in Afghanistan to around 9,800 troops.
Washington plans to further reduce that deployment to approximately 5,500 troops by the end of this year, marking the smallest military presence since a U.S.-led bombing campaign helped overthrow the Taliban in 2001.