Six dead after attack on German consulate in Afghanistan
Six Afghans were killed and more than 120 people were injured late on Thursday when a suicide bomber drove a lorry loaded with explosives into the German consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, officials said.
Five bodies had been brought to the clinic until the morning, the head of the largest hospital in town, Noor Mohammad Faiz, told journalists.
According to police, one attacker died in the explosion in front of the consulate.
A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said all its two dozen German staff were "safe and uninjured" after the bombing, adding that Afghan security forces and German special forces had "repulsed the heavily armed attackers." Afghan officials said the suicide bomber had been the only attacker.
Taliban militants claimed responsibility, saying they had launched an attack on "invading infidels" in revenge for civilians killed in airstrikes on northern Kunduz. More then 30 civilians were killed and 19 others injured in a series of airstrikes carried out in the city of Kunduz by US forces supporting Afghan troops in early November.
A small contingent of German troops has been stationed in Kunduz since March to train and assist local soldiers, but the government in Berlin says the Bundeswehr was not involved in the November airstrikes.
"Why should we not target Germans?", the Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told journalists. "The US airstrike was based on intelligence shared by German troops. They still have a camp in northern Afghanistan. There are still German soldiers."
Munir Farhad, a spokesman for the governor of Balkh province, said Thursday's blast was so powerful that the windows in most buildings in the vicinity had shattered, which caused most of the injuries.
The lorry's load of explosives had been hidden under a heap of coal, according to Sayed Kamal Sadat, the provincial police chief.
Around 1,000 German soldiers are stationed at Camp Marmal, around 10 kilometres away from the consulate and a rapid response team was sent immediately after the attack. The number of attackers remains unclear.
Afghan police said that they found a second attacker hidden or buried under rubble on Friday morning, having spoken of only one attacker during the night.
The German Foreign Ministry spoke of several heavily armed fighters. (dpa)
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