KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A motorcycle bomb targeted a minibus with workers from a Turkish construction company in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing three Turkish engineers and wounding a fourth, officials said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the attack and called on Afghan authorities to bring the assailants to justice while reiterating Ankara's commitment to helping Afghanistan.
Also on Monday, a group of Taliban suicide bombers attacked a government compound in southern Helmand province, killing three Afghans — two police officers and a civilian.
The attacks came as the Taliban intensify their spring offensive in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
The attack on the Turkish workers took place in eastern Nangharhar province's district of Behsud, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor. The Turks were working on a construction project in Behsud and were on their way to work when the bombing took place early Monday morning, he said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The Afghan Interior Ministry said the explosives were strapped to a motorcycle, which was remotely detonated as the minibus drove by.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed the casualties and said the Turks were employees of the EMTA construction company.
"We condemn this despicable attack whose perpetrators are unknown," the ministry said in a statement. "We expect that the Afghan authorities urgently catch the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice."
Turkish contracting companies have undertaken hundreds of construction projects in Afghanistan and at least four Turkish road engineers have been killed in attacks since 2004, not including Monday's deaths.
Last year, eight Turks were kidnapped, along with their Afghan translator and pilots from Russia and Kyrgyzstan, after their helicopter made an emergency landing in bad weather in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar. They were released a month later. Another Turkish engineer was kidnapped and released in 2011.
Turkey, which shares religious, historic and cultural ties with Afghanistan, is involved in NATO operations there but has refused to take on any combat missions in the country, fearing a Muslim backlash. Its troops are instead involved in providing security, in reconstruction and training in Afghanistan.
Turkey has also been hosting talks between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2007.
In the Helmand attack, an Afghan official said four Taliban bombers targeted the district governor's compound, killing two police officers and a government employee. One bomber blew himself up at the gates of the compound while the other three attackers stormed inside, only to be shot and killed by other policemen.
The attack took place in the district of Ghreshk, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Two policemen and two civilians working at the compound were also wounded in the attack, Zwak added.
Meanwhile, the international military coalition in Afghanistan said one of its service members died in an attack Monday in the country's east. The NATO force gave no other details as coalition policy is for home countries to identify their military dead. Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.