By Mirwais Harooni and Kay Johnson
KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber rammed a European Union vehicle near the main airport in Afghanistan's capital on Sunday, killing two Afghan civilians and a British security contractor in the latest attack in the city, officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), which advises Afghan law enforcement authorities.
The insurgents have launched a wave of attacks around the country since the drawdown of most foreign troops last year to a small training force of about 12,500.
EUPOL spokeswoman Sari Haukka-Konu confirmed that one of the mission's vehicles was hit by an explosion near Kabul airport.
She said that three EUPOL personnel survived but another person in the vehicle was killed.
The British embassy later confirmed that a British national was among the dead and the EU said he was a member of the mission's private security team.
Police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi said that a suicide bomber in a Toyota Corolla rammed a foreign vehicle on the road from Kabul's main airport to a NATO military installation nearby.
He said at least two Afghan civilian bystanders were killed and 18 people were wounded.
The bomber struck about 200 meters from the main airport entrance along the road leading to NATO's adjacent base. Reuters TV footage showed the mangled remains of the car.
Rescuers carried wounded Afghan civilians from the scene, which police cordoned off.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying that two vehicles were destroyed and seven foreign troops were killed. The insurgents frequently report inflated casualty numbers in their attacks.
There has been an increase in major attacks on the capital over the past two weeks after a relative lull since January.
On Wednesday night gunmen attacked a popular guesthouse ahead of a musical concert and killed 14 people including nine foreign citizens. And twice in a week, suicide car-bombers targeted buses carrying employees of the Afghan attorney general's offices, killing four people.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.
The insurgents are seeking to re-establish their hard-line Islamist regime more than 13 years after it was toppled in a U.S.-led military intervention for sheltering the al-Qaeda planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on American cities.
The NATO-trained Afghan police and army have struggled to prevent attacks and are engaged in a stand-off with Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the northern city of Kunduz.
(Editing by Robert Birsel and David Goodman)