KABUL -- A suicide car bombing tore through a U.S. convoy in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 15 people including six Americans in a blast so powerful it rattled the other side of the Afghan capital. U.S. soldiers rushed to help, some wearing only T-shirts or shorts under their body armor.
A Muslim militant group claimed responsibility for the morning rush-hour attack, saying it was carried out by a new suicide unit formed in response to reports that the U.S. plans to keep bases and troops in Afghanistan even after the 2014 deadline for the end of the foreign combat mission.
The group, Hizb-e-Islami, said its fighters had stalked the Americans for a week to learn their routine before striking -- a claim which raises questions about U.S. security procedures.
Two children were among nine Afghan civilians killed in the attack.
Two American soldiers were killed, as were four American civilian contractors with DynCorp International, a defense contractor based in Falls Church, Va.
It was the deadliest attack to rock Kabul in more than two months and followed a series of other assaults on Americans, even as U.S.-led forces are focusing more on training while leaving the fighting militants to their Afghan counterparts.
The suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car about 8 a.m. and set nearby buildings on fire. The blast left body parts scattered on the street along with the mangled wreckage of one of the U.S. vehicles.