Security contractors en route to Canadian Embassy in Kabul killed in bombing

Both ISIS and the Taliban claim responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital that killed 14 Nepalese security guards en route to work at the Canadian Embassy.

ISIS, Taliban both claim responsibility as further attacks strike capital and northeast province

Afghan security forces inspect the damage of a minibus hit by a suicide attacker at the site of the incident in Kabul on Monday. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

A suicide bomber killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack Monday on their minibus in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said.

The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy, where they worked as guards, according to another Nepalese guard who was wounded in the attack.

A Canadian official confirmed to CBC News that all embassy staff and officials are safe, and that the attack was several kilometres from the embassy.

The bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the Kabul police chief. The minibus belonged to the employees of an unnamed foreign security company, he said.

An Interior Ministry statement confirmed all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a "terrorist suicide bomber." It said the explosion also wounded nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.

In a tweet, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack "appalling & cowardly."

Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese who was wounded, told The Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy at the time of the blast.

"Many people died," Chhetri said from his hospital bed, his head covered with a white bandage. "I say to my family, I am OK and I will come home."

Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive officer, said in a posting on Twitter: "This attack is an act of terror and intimidation."

In Nepal, a spokesman for Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government is aware of the attack, and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing. Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan, but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media, saying it was retaliation for the execution last month of six Taliban prisoners. 

But in a conflicting statement, the Afghanistan affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also claimed responsibility, identifying the suicide bomber as Erfanullah Ahmed and saying he carried out the attack by detonating his explosives' belt. The conflicting claims could not immediately be reconciled.

Separate attack in northeast

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a motorbike killed 10 Afghan civilians during morning rush hour in a busy market in a province in the northeast.

In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the parked motorbike-bomb attack also wounded 14 others, according to Naved Froutan, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The explosion took place in the main bazaar in Kashim district, he said, adding that "an investigation is underway to determine the target of the attack, but all victims of the attack are civilians."

Mujahid denied any involvement by the insurgents in the blast in Badakhshan, though Taliban are active in the area and regularly target Afghan security forces there

Nepalese security guards receive treatment at a hospital following a suicide attack in Kabul. (Rahmat Gul/The Associated Press)

Later on Monday, a second bombing in Kabul killed an Afghan civilian and wounded five people, including a provincial council member who was the intended target of that attack, authorities said.

The attacks underline how serious the security threat facing Afghanistan remains since the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike last month.

The Kabul blasts follow a deadly suicide attack on a bus carrying justice ministry staff near the capital last month and a separate attack on a court in the central city of Ghazni on June 1.

With files from CBC News, Reuters