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Deadly suicide bombing at Afghan airport


Latest update : 2012-02-27

A suicide car bomber targeted a NATO base at Afghanistan's Jalalabad airport on Monday, killing nine, in what Taliban insurgents claimed was vengeance for the burning of Korans at a US military base last week.

AFP - A Taliban suicide car bomber targeting a NATO base at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan killed nine people on Monday, following days of deadly anti-US protests over the burning of the Koran.

Six civilians, an Afghan soldier and two local guards were killed, police said, but there were no reports of NATO casualties, according to a spokesman for the US-led International Security Assistance Force.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was in revenge for the burning of Korans at a US military base, taking the toll in six days of violent protests across the country to around 40 people.

"The foreign forces have insulted our religion and this attack was revenge," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

On Sunday, seven US soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack during an anti-US demonstration at their base in northern Kunduz province, police said.

On Saturday, two US advisers were shot dead in the interior ministry in Kabul just days after two US troops died as an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on them as thousands of demonstrators approached their base in the east.

The US embassy has been in lockdown since the violence erupted, and has warned of a "heightened potential threat to American citizens in Afghanistan".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the deadly protests in Afghanistan over the burning of Korans by US soldiers "must stop".

"We deeply regret the incident that has led to this protest, but we also believe that violence must stop and the hard work for building a more peaceful and secure Afghanistan must continue," she told a news conference.

President Hamid Karzai went on television on the same day to appeal for calm.

Karzai condemned "with the strongest words" the treatment of Islam's holy book and said the perpetrators should be punished, but told his countrymen: "Now that we have shown our feelings it is time to be calm and peaceful."

He said he respected the emotions of Afghans upset by the Koran burning in an incinerator pit at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, but urged them not to let "the enemies of Afghanistan misuse their feelings".

Taliban insurgents have called on Afghans to kill foreign troops in revenge for the incident, and claimed to have been behind the killing of the two US advisers in the interior ministry.

The shooting prompted NATO and several European countries to pull their advisers out of Afghan government ministries, while fallout from the Koran burnings widened as Afghan ministers cancelled a visit to Washington.

The Pentagon said Sunday that Afghanistan's defence and interior ministers had cancelled a visit to Washington this week to concentrate on addressing security concerns at home.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "understands why that's a priority and why they are unable to travel to Washington in the coming days", Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

President Barack Obama has apologised for the burning of the Korans, which officials said were inadvertently sent to the incinerator.

An Afghan government official said the US advisers killed at the interior ministry had been mocking anti-US protests over the burning of the Koran in the presence of an Afghan colleague before being shot.

Government sources said police were hunting for an Afghan intelligence official suspected of killing the two Americans.


Date created : 2012-02-27


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