By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb hit an Italian military convoy on a road between the U.S. embassy and the main airport in the center of Kabul on Thursday, killing at least six people and wounding dozens, Afghan and Italian officials said.
Italy's Defense Ministry in Rome said six people had died, including some Italian troops, although it was not immediately sure how many of the dead were Italians.
The blast was the latest incident in a dramatic escalation of violence this year in a Taliban-led insurgency against Afghan and foreign security forces.
The Taliban also vowed to disrupt last month's presidential elections, the results of which are still not decided, leaving the country in a state of political uncertainty.
It was at least the fourth blast in or near the capital in the weeks before and after the August 20 election.
Police officers at the scene, who declined to give their names, said the latest blast was caused by a suicide car bomber.
Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry said at least three Afghan civilians were killed and 38 wounded in the attack.
Afghan troops could be seen carrying wounded civilians to ambulances near the wreckage of several military vehicles bearing the insignia of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The body of at least one dead NATO soldier could be seen lying in the street in front of an armoured truck that bore an Italian flag. Other body parts were scattered near the scene. The chassis of an exploded car had landed dozens of yards away.
A police source said five foreign troops had been killed.
An ISAF media officer said they had no information about the incident yet.
A message sent from a telephone often used by a Taliban spokesman said the bomber was a member of the Islamist group.
"I was shopping when I heard a deafening explosion," said witness Shah Mohammad, an elderly man at the site of the blast.
"I saw some dead and wounded bodies lying around," he said.
The area is a short distance from the diplomatic enclave housing many Western missions, including the U.S. and British embassies, and the road is frequently used by foreign troops.
Last week, a Taliban suicide bomber blew up a car outside the main gate of a military base used by NATO troops inside Kabul's only airport. Several Afghans were killed in that attack.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Brown in ROME; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Paul Tait)