Three NATO soldiers killed in Kabul suicide car bomb

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Attack was mounted during morning rush-hour traffic outside Supreme Court and on a main road from the airport to heavily-fortified US embassy

A Taliban suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a NATO convoy near the US embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, killing three soldiers and wounding at least 13 Afghan civilians in a massive blast.

At the side of the road, US and Polish troops gave first-aid to bloodstained comrades beside the wrecked remains of a military vehicle, but the nationality of the dead soldiers was not confirmed.

The attack was mounted during morning rush-hour traffic outside the Supreme Court and on a main road from the airport to the heavily-fortified US embassy.

“We can confirm three International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) members died as a result of an enemy attack in Kabul,” the NATO coalition said in a statement.

“It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities. “The blast, on a route that NATO convoys use every day, shook buildings and sent a plume of smoke high above the city.

One of the first people on the scene was Sayed Mustafa Saadat, 27, a member of the Afghan national rugby team, who was returning from an early-morning training session.

“I rushed to help survivors. I picked up a local man who had a broken leg and was badly burnt,” he said.

“I carried him all the way to the hospital, it took about 10 minutes, but I don’t know if he survived.”

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanakzai said at least 13 civilians were wounded and 17 civilian cars were damaged by the suicide car bomb.

The NATO force has now 41,000 troops in Afghanistan, with about 29,000 from the US and just 300 from Poland.

All NATO combat soldiers will withdraw by December after 13 years of fighting the Taliban, with a follow-on mission of about 12,000 troops likely to stay on into 2015 on training and support duties.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack via a recognised Twitter account.

“(A) powerful explosion destroyed 1 military vehicle, killing/wounding a number of American terrorists,” said Taliban spokesman Abdulqahar Balkhi.