| Updated at: 0003 PST, Saturday, January 29, 2011|
KABUL: Eight people, including three foreign women and a child, were killed on Friday in a suicide bombing at a central Kabul supermarket popular with Westerners, police and witnesses said.
The attack occurred early afternoon at the Finest supermarket in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district of the Afghan capital, near several Western embassies.
"A total of eight people, including three foreign women, have been killed and six others injured, including three supermarket employees," Kabul police said in a statement.
The Afghan presidency had earlier reported nine dead and seven wounded.
Police said the victims had not yet been identified. At least one woman and a child of about seven were among the bodies an AFP journalist saw removed from the shop.
"We now know that it was a suicide attack," Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir told reporters at the scene.
The doors of the Finest supermarket were left twisted by the blast. The devastated interior was strewn with merchandise and toppled shelves.
The explosion set off a fire in the store, which was quickly extinguished.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the weekly day of rest in Afghanistan, saying employees of a private US security firm were the intended target.
"Some employees and the head of Blackwater (a private security firm, now known as Xe) were shopping in the supermarket in Kabul when one of our men attacked them," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"We claim credit for this attack."
He said the attacker opened fire in the supermarket before blowing himself up and killing several people, including the private security staff.
Xe could not be immediately contacted.
A 12-year-old boy, in tears, told AFP he had no news of his sister with whom he was shopping when he heard gunfire immediately followed by an explosion.
In a statement, President Hamid Karzai said he "strongly condemned" the attack which he described as "anti-Islamic, inhumane and shameful," he said.
Driven from power in late 2001 by US-led forces, the Taliban and their allies have been engaged in a bloody rebellion against Karzai's government and some 140,000 foreign troops that support it.
Although residents and officials say security has improved in the capital over the past two years, it is regularly hit by attacks sometimes targeting foreigners, considered by the Taliban to be accomplices of the government.
On August 10, two suicide bombers attacked a guesthouse of a British private security company, killing two drivers and wounding a guard.
In February 2010, at least 16 people, including one French, one Italian and seven Indians were killed in a Taliban attack on residential guesthouses.
In December 2009, at least eight people were killed and 40 were wounded in a suicide bombing near a hotel hosting foreigners.
On 28 October the same year, the Taliban had attacked a United Nations guesthouse, killing eight people including five foreign employees of the UN.
In January 2008 a suicide attack against the Serena Hotel, the city's most luxurious and frequented by foreigners, left eight dead.
Security in the capital is managed by Afghan forces.