Suicide bombers storm U.S. aid agency in Afghanistan; 4 security officers dead
KABUL, Afghanistan — Six militants armed with suicide bombs stormed the compound of an American contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in the northern city of Kunduz on Friday, killing four security officers in an assault that also left all the attackers dead, according to Afghan officials and the contractor.
The security officers killed included one Briton, one German and two Afghans who worked for Edinburgh International, the firm guarding the Kunduz compound of Development Alternatives Inc., a consulting company that contracts with the U.S. aid agency to help bolster governance, development and economic growth in other countries.
The Kunduz assault was the latest in a string of Taliban attacks on foreign workers and compounds, especially those doing development work, in what has seemed to be a response to U.S. and NATO forces increasing the pace of their military operations.
The attack came on the same day that Gen. David Petraeus landed in Kabul to take command of U.S. and international forces fighting the nearly 9year-old war.
Many of the attacks on foreign workers have come in the southern hub of Kandahar, where militants have been killing political leaders, foreign workers and their Afghan colleagues, including a young Afghan woman who worked for Development Alternatives. She was gunned down in April just a few hundred yards from her office.
Kunduz, one of Afghanistan’s major northern cities, is less volatile than Kandahar. But Kunduz province has become increasingly contested in the past year as Taliban leaders have tried to consolidate their control of areas that had been considered relatively safe.
The Taliban quickly took credit for Friday’s attack, which began about 3 a.m. when the first bomber exploded his car at the gate of the compound. Five other suicide bombers raced inside the building, where they began firing rifles, said Kunduz province’s governor, Mohammed Omar.
Omar said at least 23 people were wounded, including police officers, guards and civilians. Development Alternatives said several of its workers and Edinburgh International employees were wounded.
The five other attackers all eventually died inside the building, according to the governor, but he didn’t make it clear whether they had been shot during a six-hour firefight or had blown themselves up.
“The building has been destroyed,” Omar said. He also said six American employees trapped inside along with four security guards had been rescued by Afghan forces.
There were unconfirmed reports that some employees fled to the building’s roof during the battle.
Development Alternatives CEO James Boomgard issued a statement praising Edinburgh International’s defense of the
The Associated Press lists at least 1,063 U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war, including at least 841 considered combat deaths by the Pentagon. The latest reported death was a U.S. soldier killed Friday during an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan. compound as “nothing short of heroic.” The U.S. Agency for International Development building in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was destroyed Friday by six militants. The Taliban took credit for sending the attackers, who all died.