NATO contractors killed by Kabul car bomb ID'd as US citizens

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Kabul Car Bomb That Killed at Least 12 Targeted Foreigners

KABUL (Reuters) -- Three U.S. contractors were among 12 killed by a Kabul bomb that targeted their NATO convoy, the U.S.-led coalition said, making the attack one of the most lethal for U.S. citizens in Afghanistan in recent years.

The suicide attack outside a hospital on a residential street at rush hour killed mainly Afghan civilians and injured scores more, heightening the anger felt in Kabul after a barrage of deadly blasts this month killed dozens.

The attacker drove his car towards an armored pick-up truck belonging to contractor DynCorp International which was torn open and left twisted and blackened by the blast. Dozens of vehicles were destroyed, including a school van.

One U.S. contractor died when the bomb exploded, and two died from their wounds, the NATO coalition known as Resolute Support said late on Saturday. It did not name them.

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Kabul suicide car bomb kills 12
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NATO contractors killed by Kabul car bomb ID'd as US citizens
Afghan men look out of a building damaged in a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghan security forces and British soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A U.S. soldier walks towards the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A British soldier stands guard on his vehicle at the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
An Afghan man, left, checks his car at the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghanistan's security force and British soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
Afghanistan's security forces and British soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A British soldier, center, stands guard as Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A British soldier, left, stands guard as Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
An Afghan man looks out of the broken window of a building after a car bomb in Kabul on August 22, 2015. A suicide car bomb apparently targeting a foreign forces convoy killed three people in downtown Kabul on August 22, officials said, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital following a recent wave of fatal bombings. AFP PHOTO / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security forces and residents gather at the site of a car bomb in Kabul on August 22, 2015. A suicide car bomb apparently targeting a foreign forces convoy killed three people in downtown Kabul on August 22, officials said, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital following a recent wave of fatal bombings. AFP PHOTO / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured Afghan man walks past the site of a car bomb in Kabul on August 22, 2015. A suicide car bomb apparently targeting a foreign forces convoy killed three people in downtown Kabul on August 22, officials said, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital following a recent wave of fatal bombings. AFP PHOTO / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
British soldiers arrive to inspect the site of a car bomb in Kabul on August 22, 2015. A suicide car bomb apparently targeting a foreign forces convoy killed three people in downtown Kabul on August 22, officials said, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital following a recent wave of fatal bombings. AFP PHOTO / WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo credit should read WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
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The U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the bombing.

"The United States remains committed to assisting our Afghan partners in their efforts to ensure a peaceful future," it said in a statement.

Contractors such as DynCorp, which has a long involvement in the war and provided bodyguards for the last president, have frequently been targeted. Four U.S. DynCorp employees were killed in a similar Kabul suicide attack in 2013.

Bombings have increased in Kabul since the government and the Taliban in July confirmed that Taliban leader Mullah Omar died two years ago, putting paid to hopes that the insurgents would quickly return to the negotiating table.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan called for an "immediate halt to all such disproportionate attacks" in civilian-populated areas.

Fighting killed 5,000 civilians in the first half of this year, more than at any point since war started in 2001.

The violence has strained Afghanistan's ties with Pakistan, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accusing the neighboring country of not doing enough to stop militants planning attacks from training camps that he says lie across the border.

Pakistan called the latest attack on civilians "cowardice" and promised to fight against "a common enemy".

But, referring to his belief that Islamabad only cracks down on fighters who launch attacks on its soil, Ghani issued a statement calling on Pakistan to "use the same definition of terrorism" at home and in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with Ghani and has been critical of Pakistan's record on fighting the Taliban, called the attack a war crime.

"We will do everything to protect our people and our country and go after terrorists and our enemies anywhere they are," he said.

The Taliban, fighting to re-establish hard-line Islamist rule 14 years after they were ousted, denied they was behind the attack. No group has claimed responsibility.

Security sources said the contractors worked for DynCorp International. The U.S. company, which provides training, security and aviation maintenance to the NATO mission and the Afghan military, confirmed it was the target.

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