A British security contractor was among three people killed in Kabul on Sunday when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy belonging to the police mission (Eupol) outside the Afghan capital’s airport.
A spokesperson for the British embassy in Kabul confirmed that a British man had died but declined to give further details before receiving approval from next of kin.
Two Afghan girls were also killed in the attack, according to Kabir Amiri, a spokesperson for public hospitals in Kabul, who said an additional 22 people had been injured. , another two of its service members sustained non-serious injuries.
The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said in a statement: “I can confirm that a British security contractor is among those killed in the attack. His family has been informed and my thoughts are with them at this incredibly difficult time.”
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the British victim had been
In a statement on Twitter, a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack. The insurgents have ramped up violence as part of their annual spring offensive, which they have claimed will target foreign invaders and their “agents”.
However, all the Afghan casualties in Sunday’s attacks were civilians, authorities said. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the interior ministry, said that aside from the two girls killed, the injured included eight women and three children.
Zabiullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the Taliban, confirmed to the Guardian that a suicide attacker from Logar province had struck the foreign convoy outside the airport. Asked whether the Taliban intended to target civilians as part of their offensive, the spokesman denied the number of civilian casualties claimed by authorities.
Sediqqi said: “Their target has always been civilians ... They use civilians as shields. The target of this spring offensive, we don’t see a difference.”
The attack occurred around 9am, when the airport is at its busiest, with passengers arriving for domestic and international flights, and cars queuing up in a roundabout outside the entrance gate to get through security control.
The bomber drove a white Toyota Corolla and struck about 200m from the main airport entrance, when the European police convoy was on its way to a military installation nearby, a police spokesman, Ebadullah Karimi, told news agencies. The blast from the explosion could be heard several miles away, from where a white plume of smoke could also be seen.
A shopkeeper, Fraidon Khan, said he saw the car slam into a convoy of foreigners. “I saw three dead bodies. One of them was a child and two were women,” he told Reuters.
The attack at the airport caps a bloody week for civilians in Kabul. On Wednesday, gunmen killed five Afghans and nine foreigners at a guesthouse in the capital, including several aid workers. One of the victims was an Afghan-British national.
The Taliban also claimed to have been behind that attack, stating that the victims, who had gathered to watch a music performance, were targeted because they were foreigners.
“This is the second attack in a matter of days for which the Taliban have claimed responsibility and I strongly condemn their cowardly actions,” foreign secretary Hammond said.
“These attacks must not stop the people of , with the support of the international community, working towards a more peaceful future.”
The Eupol chief, Pia Stjernvall said: “I can assure you that this appalling crime will not stop Eupol from continuing its support to the people and government of Afghanistan.”
The rise in attacks has taken a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama). In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties from attacks jumped 16% over the same period last year, a recent Unama statement said.