KABUL | A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Defence Ministry gate in Kabul on Saturday killing nine civilians during a visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, underlining the insurgent threat as NATO troops prepare to leave.
Hagel was nowhere near the explosion, said a spokesman for Afghanistan’s NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). A U.S. defense official said Hagel was in a safe location at an ISAF facility.
An Afghan Defence Ministry official said at least nine people, all civilians, were killed. Fourteen people were wounded in the attack, carried out by an insurgent on a bicycle.
Roads around the ministry building, which is near the presidential palace, were closed as emergency officials cleared the area of debris and washed blood from the street. A wall surrounding the ministry was pockmarked with shrapnel.
The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said the ministry was the target. They said in a statement the attack “is a kind of message” for Hagel.
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