November 11, 2016
ISLAMABAD — An attack on a German consulate building in northern Afghanistan late Thursday killed six people and wounded more than 100, mostly civilians, though Germany’s foreign minister on Friday reported consulate staff members were unharmed.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his condolences for victims of the attack, in which a suicide truck bomber rammed the compound in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Taliban militants heavily damaged the consulate after fighting their way into the building during an intense gun battle that lasted for hours after the initial blast outside the German compound about 11 p.m. local time. The truck bomb explosion blew apart a protective barrier around the consulate, shaking buildings and breaking windows over a wide area.
A spokesman for the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan said several heavily armed Taliban suicide bombers stormed the German consulate moments after the initial explosion. With a direct route to the consulate buildings cleared by the first blast, a local police official said another suicide attacker “rammed his explosives-filled car” into the front wall of the main building.
NATO troops and Afghan security forces said they were securing the building and preparing to evacuate consulate staff. The operation apparently was prolonged by concerns that more explosives may have been planted by the attackers.
Afghan authorities said they sealed off the area around the German diplomatic compound, a former hotel. Reports from the scene said NATO helicopters were monitoring the fighting from above.
The Taliban said their assault was a “revenge attack” to retaliate for an airstrike earlier this month in neighboring Kunduz province. The insurgents said a bombing run by U.S. warplanes killed 32 civilians, including a number of children.
The airstrikes have triggered impassioned demonstrations in nearby Kunduz city, with victims’ relatives displaying mutilated bodies of dead children in a parade of trucks through the streets.
U.S. authorities are investigating the circumstances of the airstrike, but they have said it “very likely” was carried out by American warplanes. The air raid came after a Taliban assault that killed two American soldiers and three members of Afghan special forces.
The German government convened a crisis meeting before dawn in Berlin to gather information about the consulate attack. Germany has 983 soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, most of them in Balkh province, whose capital is Mazar-i-Sharif.
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