Nine die in Kabul supermarket blast

Three foreign women and one child, whose nationality was not known, were among the dead, Kabul Police Chief Mohammad Ayub Salangi told reporters at the scene. Six others were wounded, including two who suffered critical injuries, he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the attack was against a US-based security contractor.

"It was one suicide attacker," said Sayed Bashir, a member of the Ministry of Interior's criminal investigation team. "We found the two legs of the suicide bomber".

Attacks in the Afghan capital have fallen off in recent months and the explosion in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, considered one of the safest in the city, alarmed diplomats and other members of the international community.

The heavily guarded district is home to many foreigners and wealthy Afghans -- many who shop at the pricey store.

Ahmad Zaki, another member of the criminal investigation unit, said the suicide bomber threw at least one grenade and fired shots, prompting customers to run to another area of the store. "Then he blew himself up," Zaki said.

The explosion ignited a small fire in the frozen food section. Black, acrid smoke filled the main floor of the two-story store.

Mounds of canned goods, boxes of cereal and other merchandise were strewn across the floor, making it difficult for police officers and rescuers to walk around. More than an hour after the 2:30 p.m. blast, a charred smell still permeated the store.

"I was inside the store," Mary Hayden, a Western consultant, said recounting the attack. "To my left, I heard a gunshot. A bomb went off. Everyone was running to the back of the building".

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and said the "enemies of Afghanistan are so desperate that they are now killing civilians, including women, inside a food market". He said attacks against women "are not part of Afghan culture or Islam. This is an attack against Islam".

In a text message sent to reporters, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid wrote: "It was an attack on the chief of Blackwater".

Blackwater Worldwide, based in North Carolina, is now called Xe Services.
The store was full of foreign customers, according to Moujib, a 14-year-old Afghan boy who uses just one name.

"I was on the first floor and we heard a boom," he said, crying and clinging to his mother. "I might have heard some shooting. Then I saw fire everywhere".

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