KABUL, Afghanistan - A car bomb outside a compound housing a U.S. military contractor in the Afghan capital killed at least two Afghan workers and wounded more than a dozen other people, company representatives and police said.
In another part of the country, a land mine left over from the time of the Soviet invasion killed nine young girls, police said.
The blast on the outskirts of Kabul sent a plume of smoke up in the air and shook windows more than a mile away in the city center.
The security officer for Contrack, a Virginia company that builds facilities for military bases, said a suicide attacker drove a vehicle packed with explosives up to the exterior wall of the compound and detonated the bomb. Afghan police could not immediately confirm whether it was a suicide attack or a remotely detonated bomb.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an e-mail to reporters that it was a suicide car bomber who targeted the compound because it was a company working with the government.
Two of the company's Afghan employees were killed and at least 15 were wounded, said deputy Interior Ministry spokesman Najibullah Danish. He did not have any information about any of the foreign employees. Contrack did not respond to requests for comment.
Contrack security officer Baryalai, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, said at the site that injured employees included Americans, Afghans, and South Africans. An American official of the company was seriously wounded, he said.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw large sections of exterior wall blown apart and a collapsed roof on a building inside. Twisted metal from shipping containers that had been ripped open by the explosion littered the ground. A light snow was falling all morning and was starting to cover the debris as investigators surveyed the site. The wall appeared to have been made of mud brick, which is surprising in a city where most foreign contractors live in compounds reinforced by concrete blast walls.
Baryalai said an arm of Contrack was building barracks and other facilities for the Afghan army. Contrack's projects in Afghanistan also include fuel storage, air field construction and tanker facilities for U.S. military bases, according to its website.
The Kabul bombing came just hours after an exploding land mine killed nine girls as they were gathering firewood outside their village in the east of the country. The U.N. Mine Action Service said the girls appeared to have walked into an old minefield from the 1990s, when Afghan resistance fighters were battling occupying Soviet troops.