KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the gates of a NATO base and airport in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, triggering a blast that killed nine Afghans, officials said. The Taliban claimed the attack was revenge for U.S. troops burning copies of the Koran.
The bombing in the city of Jalalabad followed six days of deadly protests in the country over the disposal of Korans and other Islamic texts in a burn pit last week at a U.S. military base north of Kabul.
American officials have called the disposal of the books a mistake and have issued a series of apologies. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged calm, calling on his countrymen not to allow insurgents to capitalize on their indignation to spark violence.
About 40 people, including four U.S. soldiers, have been killed in protests and related attacks since the incident became known on Tuesday. NATO, France, Britain and the U.S. have pulled their advisers from Afghan ministries out of concern that the anti-foreigner anger might erupt again.
On Monday, the United Nations also scaled back its operations, moving its international staff from an office in the northern city of Kunduz that was attacked during protests Saturday, the organization said in a statement.
The evacuation was ordered “to put in place additional arrangements and measures to make sure the office can continue to operate in safety,” the United Nations said, adding that the move is temporary and that staff will be relocated within Afghanistan.
“We are steadfast in our desire to support our Afghan partners, and will use the extensive range of our resources to eradicate this heartless insurgency,” U.S. Marine CorpsGen. John Allen said in a statement condemning the Jalalabad bombing.
In Monday’s attack, the bomber drove up to the gates of the airport, which primarily serves international military aircraft, and detonated his explosives in a “very strong” blast shortly after daybreak, said Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Hazrad Mohammad.
Among the dead were six civilians, two airport guards and one soldier, Mr. Mohammad said. Another six people were wounded, he said. An AP photographer saw at least four mangled, charred cars at the site destroyed in the blast.
Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO forces spokesman, said that no international forces were killed in the attack and that the base was not breached by the blast.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide car bomber had driven up to the airport gate and detonated his explosives as international forces were changing from night to morning guard duty.
“This attack is revenge against those soldiers who burned our Koran,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in an email.
Afghan officials, including the defense and interior ministers, canceled planned visits to Washington this week so they could remain in Kabul for consultations about how to quell the violence, U.S. officials said.
In the highest-profile attack, two military advisers were found dead in their office at the Interior Ministry on Saturday in the heart of the capital, Kabul, with shots to the back of their heads.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
We all eat, and food should be fun and healthful. Food Commune celebrates the food we eat, the people we eat with and the spirits we enjoy.
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
Reflections on raising families in a holistic way -- with a focus on nutrition and alternative health.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall