At least 17 people including children died in two explosions within 24 hours in Kabul on Sunday and overnight at a religious school in a southeastern province of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday. The Taliban militia claimed the Kabul bombing, which a spokesman from President Hamid Karzai’s office said killed two US nationals, two Afghans and three Nepalis in front of the offices of an international security company. Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said the bomb was detonated by a Taliban fighter using a remote control device. “A few minutes ago he phoned our chief ... to say that he finished his mission and is alive,’ Hakimi said. But, a statement purported to be from Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing. “The mujahideen were able to plant a bomb in a car which was detonated by remote control outside the US centre,” said the statement signed by “Al Qaeda organisation, Afghanistan”, and posted on an Islamist website, informs Daily Times. According to Washington Post, a powerful car bomb exploded at dusk Sunday outside the downtown office of an American security contracting firm and an adjacent building used to train Afghan police. Officials said at least four people were killed, at least two of whom were Americans. The blast, which engulfed the police facility in flames, was so strong that it shattered office and store windows for three blocks in all directions. It was the deadliest bomb to strike this rapidly developing post-war capital in two years, and it came days before campaigning begins for the country's first presidential elections in October. Extremist Islamic groups have vowed to disrupt the elections through violence, and within two hours of the explosion, purported spokesmen for the Taliban Islamic militia had claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in phone calls to two news agencies. The office of President Hamid Karzai issued a statement Sunday night saying the blast had killed 7 people, including two Americans, three Nepalese guards and two Afghans, one of them a young boy. Other security agencies could confirm only four deaths, however. "The president understands that as the people of Afghanistan move toward elections, the enemies of Afghanistan will expedite their efforts to harm the election process and threaten the people's security," the statement said, adding that Afghanistan will continue "relentlessly" on a path to peace and reconstruction. A second bombing several hours earlier killed 9 people at a school in the southern Afghan province of Paktia, Afghan officials said. The victims were as young as 7. The school was located in Zurmat, a town that has been a recurrent site of clashes between alleged Taliban fighters and American and Afghan troops. A powerful explosion wrecked the office of an American security firm in downtown Kabul yesterday, killing up to six people and leaving the building in flames, officials and residents said. The blast hit the office of Dyncorp, a private firm which protects Afghan President Hamid Karzai and works for the US government in Iraq, said Mr Nick Downie of the Afghanistan NGO Security Office. Mr Downie said he and others who rushed to the scene pulled five or six people from the building with serious injuries, several of whom were apparently US citizens. 'We're looking at a similar number who died, a mixture of Afghans and internationals,' said Mr Downie, a former British soldier who advises relief groups on security. The blast occurred in the Shar-e Naw district of central Kabul, an area thick with the offices of international organisations and guesthouses used by their staff. The ousted Taleban militia has claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack, reports Reuter.
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