KABUL, Afghanistan — Suicide attackers and gunmen struck the Kandahar headquarters of the United Nations' primary refugee agency Monday, the second major attack on foreigners in Afghanistan in three days.
Seven Afghans were killed in the attack, including three U.N. employees and a police officer, according to the United Nations and provincial officials. Four other people, including two Afghan police officers and a Nepalese national, were wounded.
Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, called the attack a "tragedy" and said he was "hugely saddened."
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef, claimed responsibility for the attack and said the intended target was a guesthouse used by International Relief and Development, a leading U.S. government contractor for aid projects.
The assault began when a suicide bomber crashed a truck filled with explosives into a checkpoint that guarded the entrance into the neighborhood where the U.N. offices and those of several U.S. and international aid agencies are.
Three Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests and armed with AK-47 rifles later entered an animal clinic and started shooting at police, said Mohammad Faisal, the head of the Kandahar media office. Afghan security forces responded by sealing off the area and exchanging fire with the attackers, he said.
Faisal said police killed the three militants.
The attack came two days after a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle reportedly packed with more than 1,500 pounds of explosives into an armored NATO military bus that was traveling on a busy road in western Kabul. Seventeen people were killed, including five U.S. soldiers and eight U.S. civilian contractors, in the deadliest attack on Americans in Kabul in recent memory.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday offered condolences for the deaths of the foreign military personnel in the attack in Kabul. In a statement Saturday, he had expressed condolences only to the families of the four Afghan victims and made no mention of the 13 NATO personnel who were killed, most of them Americans.