From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Sep 11 2011 - 18:53:37 EDT
Truck bomb kills 4 Afghans, wounds 77 U.S. troops
Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:49pm GMT
By Emma Graham-Harrison
KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber driving a truck of firewood attacked a
NATO base in central Afghanistan, killing four civilians and injuring 77
U.S. troops on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks, NATO
and Afghan officials said on Sunday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing, which created one
of the highest injury tolls of the decade-long war and came just hours after
the insurgent group slammed the United States for dragging Afghanistan into
An 8-year-old boy was among those killed in the bombing at a combat outpost
in Wardak province, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the capital Kabul, the
governor's office said in a statement. Fourteen civilians were also wounded.
None of the injuries to the U.S. troops was life-threatening, and the base
remained operational although its perimeter fence was damaged, a spokesman
for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
"Seventy-seven people is a large number, when you come to casualty figures,
but the majority of them could very quickly be treated, there was nobody who
was in danger of losing his life, and a high number of them returned to
duty," said spokesman General Carsten Jacobson.
In a statement emailed to media, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said
the truck used in the attack was packed with nine tonnes of explosives and
more than 100 foreign troops were killed or wounded.
Doctor Muslim, the governor of Sayed Abad district, said the blast had also
badly damaged the buildings that house the district government, and his cook
was among the dead.
"A big cloud of smoke rose to the sky and foreign troops' helicopters were
landing and taking off in the base for more than five hours after the
blast," said Abdul Karim, a shopkeeper from the town near the base.
The windows and doors of more than 100 shops and houses were damaged in the
explosion, the governor's office said.
Last month, militants shot down a helicopter in Wardak province, killing 30
U.S. troops, most of them elite Navy SEALs, in the deadliest attack on U.S.
troops since the war began ten years ago.
Violence has escalated across the country, turning even some areas near the
capital, such as Wardak, into insurgent strongholds and bringing insecurity
to parts of the north and west that had been peaceful for years.
Foreign military casualties hit record levels last year -- and 2011 has been
almost as bloody -- although civilians bear the brunt of the violence.
Eleven died this weekend. A roadside bomb in northern Kunduz province killed
five civilians on Sunday, including three children. On Saturday another bomb
in eastern Paktika province killed six civilians including two women.
The majority of civilian deaths are now caused by insurgents.
But the Taliban in a statement issued hours before the truck bombing blamed
the United States for causing bloodshed in Afghanistan.
"Each year, the 9/11 reminds the Afghans of an event in which they had no
role whatsoever, but, using this as a pretext and a clout, the American
colonialism shed blood of tens of thousands of miserable and innocent
Afghans," Mujahid said.
Afghans have an "endless stamina for a long war," he warned and asked
foreign nations to press the United States to stop attacking the country.
NATO-led forces have committed to withdrawing all combat troops by the end
of 2014, and in July began the first phase of a gradual process to hand
security control to Afghan troops.
But U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of
the attacks in New York and Washington said the United States will remain
engaged in Afghanistan.
"We are and will remain committed to Afghanistan and the region. We are in
this for the long haul. We are transitioning security responsibility to
Afghan forces, but transition does not mean disengagement," Crocker said.
(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul and Obaid Ormur in Logar
province, writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by David Cowell)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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