The death toll from a suicide bombing targeting an intelligence team convoy outside Kabul early on Tuesday rose to 12, including eight civilians for which Taliban had claimed responsibility.
It was a suicide attack on an operational team from the National Directorate for Security, officials said but gave no further details. The car bomb follows a wave of deadly violence against Afghan forces across a year in which insurgents have inflicted record-high casualties on security personnel in the war-torn country.
“Twelve people including four members of the security forces were killed,” ministry of interior deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
Kabul police confirmed the casualties, adding that women and children were among the dead.
The blast took place in Paghman district west of Kabul as the convoy was returning from an overnight operation, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.
The ministry of interior and a separate security official requesting anonymity confirmed the assailant had used a car bomb to target the convoy.
Afghan security forces, beset by killings and desertions, have been struggling to beat back insurgents from the militant Islamic State group as well as the Taliban since US-led Nato mostly left them on their own three years ago.
In November President Ashraf Ghani said nearly 30,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed since 2015 — a figure far higher than anything previously acknowledged.
Earlier this month, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie — who has been nominated to lead the US military’s Central Command — said the death rate among Afghan forces will no longer be sustainable unless urgent measures are taken to address recruiting and training issues.
The early morning attack in Kabul came just hours after an overnight assault on a checkpoint in Arghistan district of southern Kandahar province by Taliban fighters killed at least eight Afghan police officers according to the provincial media office.
“The fighting lasted several hours, 11 Taliban were also killed,” the office added.