Taliban claim suicide attack on contractor camp in Kabul

By Hamid Shalizi KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban claimed responsibility for a truck bomb attack on a compound for civilian contractors near Kabul airport on Monday, hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital over the past week. At least 30 Afghan civilians, including nine children, were wounded in the attack on Camp Baron, a heavily protected residential compound for civilian technical contractors close to the city's main airport, a health ministry official said. A police official said a truck packed with explosives drove up to the armored gates of the complex before being detonated, smashing windows and sending glass flying and badly damaging nearby houses. The official said there did not appear to be any casualties inside the compound and there were no immediate details on whether anyone had been killed. A police officer on the scene said he had seen at least three dead bodies. Medical aid group Emergency, which runs a hospital in Kabul, said it was receiving wounded at its surgical center. A spokesman for the Taliban, which has often issued exaggerated casualty figures, said dozens of foreigners had been killed or wounded. The Taliban, which has stepped up its insurgency since foreign forces ended combat operations last year has claimed a series of attacks on foreign targets in and around Kabul although most casualties have been Afghan civilians. On Friday, a suicide bomber attacked a French restaurant popular with foreigners and well-off Afghans, killing a 12 year old boy and a security guard. Earlier on Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police checkpoint without causing any other casualties. Monday's attacks occurred as special forces in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif fought to suppress a small group of insurgents holding out after an attack on the Indian consulate on Sunday night. The attacks have coincided with renewed efforts to restart stalled peace talks with the Taliban. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi, writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Ralph Boulton)