14 Nepalese guards killed in suicide blast in Afghanistan

A Taliban-claimed suicide bombing targeted a bus transporting Nepalese security guards Monday morning on the outskirts of Kabul, killing at least 14 people and injuring nine others, Afghan officials said.

The Nepalese nationals were on their way to work at the Canadian embassy in Afghanistan.

The Afghan interior ministry said the bus was traveling near the Pol-e Charkhi prison outside the capital when it came under attack about 5:40 a.m. The interior ministry said all 14 killed were Nepalese.

It was believed to be the deadliest incident in Afghanistan to strike migrant workers from Nepal, many of whom work as security guards at embassies and compounds belonging to international agencies.

Five Nepalese and four Afghans were wounded in the attack. Abdul Rahman Rahimi, Kabul police chief, said the injured Afghans were at a nearby market when they were struck by the blast.

Thousands of Nepalese nationals work in Afghanistan, where they can earn salaries much higher than in their impoverished home country. About 3,300 work as security guards, according to government statistics, earning several hundred dollars each month.

The Nepalese website Pahilo Post, citing official figures, said more than 1,200 Nepalese had left for Afghanistan in the last three months.

Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said he was “saddened” by the attack.

“I pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the incident,” Oli tweeted.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast.

Also Monday, the Afghan parliament finally approved a defense minister — a position that had been in the hands of a caretaker minister for more than 2½ years – and a new spy chief.

Gen. Abdullah Khan Habibi, who has been acting defense minister since May, was confirmed by parliament with 167, well over the 113 he needed to secure the post.

Since a national unity government took office in September 2014, President Ashraf Ghani had proposed several…

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