Taliban suicide bombers kill 7 in Kabul, wound 21

Taliban suicide bombers struck two buses carrying Afghan soldiers in Kabul early today, killing seven people and wounding 21, just a day after the signing of a key US-Afghan security pact.

Kabul: Taliban suicide bombers struck two buses carrying Afghan soldiers in Kabul early today, killing seven people and wounding 21, just a day after the signing of a key US-Afghan security pact.

The long-awaited deal allows US forces to remain in the country past the end of 2014, ending the uncertainty over the fate of foreign troops supporting Afghans as they take over the fight against the Taliban insurgency.

Today's attacks involved two suicide bombers targeting buses carrying Afghan troops in the country's capital. The first attacker hit a bus with Afghan National Army officers in west Kabul, killing seven and wounding 15, said the city's criminal investigation police chief Mohammad Farid Afzali.

The second attacker, who was also on foot, blew himself up in front of a bus in northeastern Kabul, wounding at least six army personnel, Afzali said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying the security pact with America has only motivated the group and given the Taliban "more morale" to fight the enemy.

"They need to give more sacrifices to make their homeland free," Mujahid said, referring to Taliban fighters.

In a separate statement to media, the Taliban denounced the Bilateral Security Agreement as an "American plot" and said that "such fake documents will never hold back the lawful jihad," or holy war.

In Kabul, dozens of Afghan security forces sealed off the attack sites, littered with broken glass, as military ambulances took the victims to hospital. Worried Afghans passed by, on their way to work.

Under the security pact, along with a separate deal signed with NATO, about 10,000 American troops and several thousand more from other NATO countries will stay to train and advise Afghan forces after the international combat mission ends on December 31.

More than a decade after US forces helped topple the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks, Afghanistan is still at war with the Islamic militant group, which regularly carries out attacks, mainly targeting security forces.

There are also serious questions about the ability of the Afghan security forces to take on the militants, even with a residual US force remaining in the country.

In other violence, two police officers were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a police vehicle late yesterday in Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province. Five policemen were also wounded in the attack, Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the provincial governor said today.