KABUL — Suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden truck into a compound filled with foreign contract workers Tuesday, killing two local security guards in the Afghan capital.
The Taliban asserted responsibility for the attack, which is part of a wave of militant strikes targeting high-profile people and areas in Kabul.
The spike in violence suggests a fresh determination among insurgents to destabilize the capital as the new power-sharing government seeks to enact reforms, repair diplomatic ties with Pakistan and other neighboring countries, and move ahead with a security pact that will extend the presence of U.S. forces beyond 2014.
The latest target was a Russian security company in the Pul-i-Charki district in eastern Kabul, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir, the police chief in the capital, adding that one foreigner suffered minor injuries in the explosion.
Afghan security officials said that at least three suicide bombers were involved in the operation, which unfolded about 6.30 a.m. All three were killed.
“Initially, one bomber detonated a mini-truck full of explosives at the entrance of this non-military installation,” said Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. “Two other bombers who tried to enter the compound after the initial attack were gunned down by Afghan guards of the company in a fire exchange. Sadly, two of the guards were martyred.”
The explosion rocked houses and rattled windows miles away, prompting the country’s first vice president, Abdurrashid Dostum, to visit the scene.
“It was a very powerful explosion,” Dostum told reporters. “I was exercising when I heard it and rushed to the area to see for myself its aftermath.”
The Taliban has stepped up attacks nationwide since the recently inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, signed a long-delayed security pact with Washington, allowing it to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan past the end of the year. The insurgent group has vowed to fight until all foreign troops leave the country.
Tuesday’s attack came two days after a suicide bomber targeted Shukriya Barekzai, a prominent women’s rights activist and lawmaker, by ramming a vehicle filled with explosives into her armored car. She suffered minor injuries but three passersby were killed and 22 others were injured.
Last week, a suicide bomber made his way into the heavily fortified police headquarters in Kabul in an apparent attempt to kill Zahir. The police chief was not in his office when the bomber detonated his explosives, killing Zahir’s chief of staff and wounding six others.