Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images
An Afghan man (right) cries at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul's diplomatic quarters Saturday.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the heavily barricaded NATO headquarters in Kabul on Saturday, killing six civilians, NATO and local officials said.
The bomber, who was riding an explosives-laden motorcycle, blew himself up near the entrance of Camp Eggers, a NATO spokeswoman said, referring to a sprawling base that is home to 2,500 coalition personnel who train Afghan security forces.
The blast was the latest example of how militants are able to strike the heart of the Afghan capital even after more than a decade of fighting Western forces with far superior firepower. It also raises questions about Afghan forces' ability to combat insurgents once most foreign troops leave by the end of 2014.
Prince Harry is back on active service in Afghanistan - this time to fly an Apache attack helicopter during a four-month deployment. The Queen approved the decision - and his duties may see him involved in fierce action against the Taliban. ITV's Tim Ewart reports.
Pieces of flesh and splattered blood lay on the street near the base, where small bodies were seen being lifted into ambulances, witnesses said.
Young children were among the dead, said Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said five people were wounded in addition to the six deaths, The Associated Press reported.
Hoshang Hashimi / AP
More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.
Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for the U.S.-led international military alliance, told The AP that all coalition compounds in Kabul were currently secure. He said he was not aware of any casualties among members of the coalition.
Taliban claims responsibility
The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying they had despatched a bomber to target the Kabul offices of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
"One of our mujahideen targeted an important intelligence office used for recruiting Americans and Afghans for spying," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.
Sediqqi speculated on his Twitter feed that Saturday's attack, just before noon, may have been carried out by the Haqqanis, the most experienced insurgents in Afghanistan.
On Friday the United States said it is designating the Haqqani network -- blamed for a number of high-profile attacks on Western and Afghan targets in Kabul -- a terrorist organization.
Senior Haqqani commanders told Reuters from an undisclosed location that the move showed the United States was not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan and warned of more attacks on American forces in Afghanistan.
The bombing on Saturday happened as celebrations were underway in Kabul to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the hero of the 1980s war against Soviet occupiers, and later of opposition to the Taliban.
Massoud was killed on September 9 by al Qaeda militants posing as reporters.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Quakes in southwest China kill dozens, damage 20,000 homes
- Tens of thousands of fish die in Lake Erie; lack of oxygen cited
- Coral in Caribbean, Florida in sharp decline, 'no signs of slowing,' report finds
- Pakistani judge grants bail for Christian girl in blasphemy case
- Haqqanis: Terrorist designation adds to captured GI's 'woes'
- The Arab Spring is dead -- and Syria is writing its obituary