Taliban bomber targets US ambassador


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A Taliban suicide bomber struck the convoy of the American ambassador in Afghanistan today, killing a teenage bystander and five US embassy security staff.

But Ronald Neumann, Washington's envoy to the country, was not in any of the three cars, US officials said.

The blast badly damaged the front of one sports utility vehicle that was thrown across the road where the bomber struck.

The attack, about two miles from the embassy in Kabul, was on a route on the outskirts of the city that is often targeted in bombings and rocket attacks.

British and American soldiers then secured the area, while French forces scoured nearby fields for evidence.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, claimed that a militant from Khost province carried out the attack.

The suicide bombing was the first in the Afghan capital since December, but the second in the country within weeks to target a senior American official.

Last month Vice-President Dick Cheney was inside Bagram air base north of Kabul when a suicide bomber struck at a security barrier, killing 23 people and injuring dozens more.

In September, a suicide bombing near the US embassy killed 16 people, including two American soldiers.

The embassy was closed after the attack today and US citizens in the city were warned to take extra security precautions.