A SUICIDE car bomb exploded outside the NATO military headquarters in the Afghan capital Kabul today, killing three people and wounding at least 70.
The attack in the heart of the city comes just days before August 20 presidential and provincial council elections.
The blast was at the main gate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and was caused by a suicide bomber, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters at the site.
ISAF personnel are believed to be among the casualties.
Also in the area are the embassies of India, Spain, Italy and the United States, and the presidential palace is about 200 metres away.
ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Eric Tremblay said there were casualties among the International Security Assistance Force as well as some Afghan civilians.
"The bomber was stopped by Afghan security at the first gate," he said.
The explosion was outside the main gate of the ISAF headquarters, where hundreds of troops from various countries are stationed.
The base includes the living quarters and offices of General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander of more than 100,000 international troops in Afghanistan.
About 6200 ISAF troops are stationed in Kabul at various bases.
A health ministry spokesman said 57 wounded, including 12 women and a child, were in the main civilian hospital. Most of them had superficial wounds, he said.
About 20 others were undergoing treatment in the military hospital, a defence ministry official said.
The Taliban, which is leading a mounting insurgency, has not threatened to attack the polls but called on Afghans to boycott the election and join their campaign for “independence” instead.
It was the first suicide attack on the city in months, after a spate of such blasts last year claimed by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
Eight rockets struck the Afghan capital on Tuesday, including one that landed near the US embassy, wounding a man and a child, the government said, raising tensions ahead of the elections.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the dawn attacks, saying its fighters targeted Afghan soldiers and the Kabul international airport.
The city has not seen a significant attack in months but there are fears the Taliban and other insurgents will strike in the lead-up to the August 20 elections.
Source: The Australian