A suicide bomber steered his motorcycle into a group of U.S. soldiers and Afghan police officers in a northern city and detonated his explosives Wednesday, killing at least nine people, including three U.S. soldiers, officials?said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place in Maimana, the capital of Faryab?province.
It was the latest in a series of attacks in recent days, most of them aimed at the Afghan security forces, that have raised concerns that the Taliban was fully moving into a spring offensive now that the high mountain passes are thawing and travel routes from Pakistan are?opening.
Abdul Khaliq Aqsai, the police chief of Faryab, along with other officials, said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, not caused by a roadside bomb, as some initial reports?indicated.
Aqsai said the bomber struck around 10:30 a.m. as the Americans and the Afghan police filmed interviews with people on the edge of a park in Maimana, asking about security in the city and the surrounding?area.
As they filmed, a crowd of curious onlookers gathered, many of them drawn from a bustling, adjacent vegetable?market.
Then the bomber plowed his motorcycle into the crowd and set off his explosives, said Mohammad Jorabay Andokhyee, who saw the attack from the shop he?owns.
In a statement on their website, the Afghan Taliban claimed killing 16 coalition troops and 12 Afghans in the suicide?attack.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt among coalition forces in Maimana as they were traveling to a park. He added that eyewitnesses said the coalition troops indiscriminately fired their weapons, killing one civilian and wounding?others.
Throughout the day, officials offered varying reports of how many people were killed in the bombing, with some accounts putting the death toll as high as?15.
But by the end of the day, Abdul Sattar Bariz, the deputy provincial governor said six Afghans, including two police, a woman and a child, were killed and 26 people were?wounded.
The coalition released a statement saying three of its service members were killed Wednesday by ?an improvised explosive device? in northern?Afghanistan.
It did not provide additional details, but a coalition official said the three were American and had been killed in the Faryab?attack.
The official asked not to be identified because the information had not yet been officially released by the?coalition.
The Associated Press reported that video it had taken at the scene showed NATO vehicles at the bomb?site.
Germany and Norway, which have troops in Faryab province, said their soldiers had not been at the scene of the attack, AP?reported.
At least 101 coalition service members have been killed this year in Afghanistan, according to icasualties.org, an independent website that tracks deaths in Afghanistan and?Iraq.