The Taliban cited a U.S. airstrike that killed 32 people in Afghanistan during a NATO-led special forces operation last week as justification for a suicide bombing on the German consulate in the country’s northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Late Thursday evening, a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives into the consulate, tearing off the building’s facade and killing at least four people and injuring another 120. No German consular employees were harmed in the attack.
Police spokesman Sayid Sarwar Hussaini told the New York Times there were two large explosions at the Mazar Hotel, which German diplomats have been using as their de facto consulate in the city.
Soon after the initial attack, German troops shot dead two men on motorcycles who did not heed warning shots. Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the ministry would review the incident.
The German foreign ministry in Berlin said that all German consulate staff were “safe and uninjured.”
A Taliban spokesman told German news agency DPA why it had targeted the consulate: “Why shouldn’t we attack the Germans? Germany was directly involved in the airstrike which cost civilian life. The attack was based on intelligence that German soldiers had given the American troops.”
Earlier this week, the United Nations opened an investigation into last week’s U.S. airstrike, which killed 32 and injured 19 others in the Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. “The loss of civilian life is unacceptable and undermines efforts toward building peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the UN said in a statement.