An explosion tore through the office of an American security contractor in the heart of the Afghan capital Sunday, killing seven people, including two Americans, officials and witnesses said.
The explosion hit the office of Dyncorp Inc., a U.S. firm that provides security for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and works for the U.S. government in Iraq, said Nick Downie of the Afghanistan NGO Security Office.
"The explosion which occurred in front of the Kabul office of an international security company killed at least seven people," Karzai's office said in a statement. "Two Americans, three Nepalese and two Afghan nationals, including a child, have been confirmed dead."
Hours earlier, a blast at a southeastern Afghanistan school killed nine youngsters and one adult, the U.S. military said. The child victims were said to be between the ages of 7 and 15, said Paktia Gov. Asadullah Wafa. He said 15 other people were injured.
Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed shock at the Kabul attack. An embassy statement described the contractor as also helping train Afghan police.
"This cowardly attack will not deter U.S. participation in the ongoing effort to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet," Khalilzad said, describing the blast as a "terrorist attack."
Downie said he and others at the scene pulled five or six seriously injured people — including apparent Americans — from the building.
"Some were obviously Dyncorp staff," he said.
The company also is believed to employ Nepalese guards in Afghanistan, where it reportedly is also involved in anti-drug efforts.
NATO forces patrolling Kabul have warned that anti-government militants, including the ousted Taliban, could try to mount spectacular attacks in a bid to disrupt landmark presidential elections scheduled for Oct. 9.
Wafa said Saturday night's explosion at the Islamic school near Zormat, 80 miles south of Kabul, was caused by a bomb planted by "puppets listening to their bosses outside the country." He did not elaborate, but the remark appeared aimed at neighboring Pakistan, which many Afghans accuse of not doing enough to prevent Taliban militants from mounting cross-border attacks.
The U.S. military said the cause of the explosion was unclear.
The Mullah Khel also taught the more modern syllabus set by the Afghan Education Ministry.
It received funding from an international aid group, Wafa said, something that could conceivably have made it a target for Taliban-led militants.