Four Afghans were killed and 119 people were injured late Thursday when a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into the German Consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, officials said.
A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said all its two dozen German staff members were “safe and uninjured” after the bombing, adding that Afghan security forces and German special forces had “repulsed the heavily armed attackers.”
Afghan officials said the suicide bomber had been the only attacker.
Taliban militants claimed responsibility, saying they had launched an attack on “invading infidels” in revenge for civilians killed in airstrikes in northern Afghanistan.
More then 30 civilians were killed and 19 injured in a series of airstrikes carried out in the city of Kunduz by U.S. forces supporting Afghan troops in early November.
Munir Farhad, a spokesman for the governor of Balkh province, said Thursday’s blast was so powerful that the windows in most buildings in the vicinity had shattered, which caused most of the injuries.
The German Foreign Ministry said the consul building had been “considerably damaged.”
The truck’s explosives had been hidden under a heap of coal, said Sayed Kamal Sadat, the provincial police chief.
Mazar-i-Sharif is the provincial capital and one of the most important cities in the country. Residents reported hearing a huge explosion near the consulate that shattered windows in buildings nearby.
Germany has 983 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, most of them in Balkh, as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
The Taliban’s insurgency has spread from its southern heartland across the country in the last two years.
The Taliban statement from spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the attack was retaliation for recent airstrikes in Kunduz, capital of the province of the same name.
5:15 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on the number of deaths and injuries.
This article was originally published at 12:55 p.m.