KABUL • At least 12 people were killed, three of them children, and 20 others were wounded when a car bomb exploded near the Kabul airport early yesterday, Afghan officials said. It was the first major attack on the Afghan capital after about a month of relative calm.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rush-hour attack, which came a day after the Afghan government agreed to a prisoner exchange with Taleban insurgents in the hope of reviving peace talks.
Mr Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said a suicide bomber driving a van targeted an armoured vehicle that belonged to GardaWorld, a Canadian security company that saw four of its staff wounded in the attack.
"Seven Afghan civilians were killed in the explosion and 10 people, including four foreign nationals, were wounded," he said. He did not disclose the nationalities of the four wounded, but a senior Afghan security official said they were either Indian or Nepalese nationals and the Kabul police were working to identify the injured.
Two Taleban commanders and a leader of the Haqqani militant group were released in exchange for two professors, an American and an Australian, in a development some analysts had hoped could pave the way for stalled peace talks in Afghanistan.
The Taleban has so far refused to engage with the foreign-backed Afghan government, which the insurgent group calls a "puppet" regime.
One of the freed men, Mr Anas Haqqani, is the younger brother of Mr Sirajuddin Haqqani, the second-in-command in the Afghan Taleban hierarchy and leader of the Haqqani network, which is considered the deadliest faction of the Taleban and which has carried out some of the most brazen attacks in Kabul.