Blast in Afghan capital strikes near NATO convoy

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U.S. troops stand guard at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, February 10, 2014. A suicide bomber in a car targeted a convoy of vehicles carrying foreign forces in the eastern part of Afghan capital, Kabul on Monday. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)

U.S. troops stand guard at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An explosion struck near a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital on Monday, drawing American troops to the scene, although the international coalition could not confirm whether it was the intended target of the attack.

No casualties were immediately confirmed, but at least two civilian vehicles were damaged in the explosion in eastern Kabul.

A witness said the blast was a suicide attack on a convoy of foreign military vehicles.

Police and ambulances rushed to the scene near the Pul-i-Charkhi prison. Two civilian vehicles lay overturned and nearby shop windows were shattered from the force of the explosion.

A local shopkeeper named Jameel, who uses only one name as is common practice among Afghan men, said he saw two NATO vehicles leaving the prison and a car slamming into the second one. He said he saw at least two wounded foreigners but he could not tell the extent of their injuries before they were evacuated.

Several American military personnel arrived at the scene, but the NATO-led coalition gave few details of what happened. "We are aware of reports of an explosion in eastern Afghanistan," the coalition said in a statement.

Taliban-affiliated militants have stepped up attacks in the final year of the international coalition's 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan, seeking to shake confidence in the Kabul government's ability to keep order after they assumed full security responsibility last year.

The insurgents have vowed to disrupt presidential elections scheduled for April 5, a key test of Afghanistan's fragile democracy and the ability of its 350,000-strong, Western-trained security forces to counter violence.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said Monday that Afghan forces will be able to protect 94 percent of the planned polling places in the election. He said police and the military have been working closely with the country's election commission and have determined that 420 of the 7,168 planned voting centers will be too difficult to secure.

The Independent Election Commission officials have said that any polling place that cannot be secured will be closed.

Also Monday, the coalition said one of its service members died Friday in the country's east of a non-battle-related injury. It gave no other details. It is the first fatality for the coalition this month, bringing the year's total to eight.