KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban bombed a British embassy vehicle in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday morning, killing five people, and attacked a foreign compound in the city center in the evening, officials and witnesses said.
The suicide attack on the British embassy car in the east of the Afghan capital killed two embassy workers including one Briton and wounded more than 30 others in the vicinity of the explosion, officials said.
The second blast, targeting a compound run by a contractor for the U.S. aid agency in Afghanistan, shook buildings in the diplomatic quarter and was followed by an hour-long gun battle between insurgents and Afghan security forces.
One foreign national was injured and two suicide bombers were killed in the second attack, which started when a car loaded with explosives detonated outside the guesthouse just after 7 p.m, according to security officials.
"There are no casualties among the Afghan security forces and the foreigners are in a safe room," said the commander of 111 Military Corps Kabul, Qadam Shah Shaheem.
A Western security official said the explosion failed to breach the compound walls, which were well fortified.
Thursday's incidents were the latest in a wave of bombings to hit the city as the majority of foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
Taliban insurgents, who were ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, claimed responsibility for both attacks, saying the embassy car bomb "targeted foreign invading forces", while the compound was an "important center of the enemy".
Attacks aimed at foreign diplomats and civilians are less common than the daily strikes against Afghan and international military forces on the country's roads.
More than 4,600 Afghan police and army personnel have been killed in the war against the Taliban since the start of the year, a figure recently described by a top U.S. general in Afghanistan as unsustainably high.
BRITISH CITIZEN KILLED
Britain said that two embassy personnel, including one British national who worked in security, were among the five killed.
"I am deeply saddened to confirm that a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the embassy were killed in the incident," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement, adding that another Briton had been injured.
A Reuters witness saw at least one survivor being led away from the charred shell of the vehicle on foot by a member of the British security force.
G4S, the world's biggest security firm, later confirmed one of its staff had been killed in the blast and another injured.
"Next of kin have been informed and we will continue to provide them with support," a company spokesperson said.
"Our thoughts and most heartfelt condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved in this tragic incident."
The interior ministry initially reported that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle, but later said the attacker was traveling by car.
Since Monday, when two American soldiers were killed in a powerful blast close to the airport, there have been at least five high profile attacks in Kabul.
While not common, attacks against diplomatic missions and personnel show a determination to target anyone associated with the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan.
Last year a 25-year-old American diplomat was killed in an attack on a convoy in the east of the country, while the U.S. consulate in western Herat province was attacked with a truck bomb. In May, the Indian consulate in the same province was also targeted by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests.