Sui­cide bombers storm U.S. aid agency in Afghanistan; 4 se­cu­rity of­fi­cers dead

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Richard A. Op­pel Jr.

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.

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