A suicide attacker detonated a minibus packed with explosives near the gates of a military base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing six NATO troops and two Afghan soldiers, officials said.
Afghan officials said the attack took place in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, where the U.S. poured in troops this summer as part of a surge of forces to try to oust the Taliban from its southern strongholds.
Gen. Abdul Hamid, the Afghan army chief for the province, said the attacker drove a minibus into the entrance of the base Sunday morning just as vehicles were preparing to move out on a patrol. “They were leaving the compound and at that moment, the minibus attacked and they hit right at the entrance of the base,” Hamid said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the insurgent group was retaliating for all the attacks launched on them in the area in recent months. NATO said only that the service members had been killed in an insurgent attack and declined to identify their nationalities. Most NATO troops in the south are American. More than 670 international troops have been killed so far this year, well above the 502 killed in the whole of 2009.
Sunday’s attack was the second incident in two weeks to kill so many service members.