Scores killed in Afghanistan suicide bomb attack


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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital today, killing at least 12 people including eight South Africans.

An Afghan suicide bomber has rammed a mini-bus full of expat Nato workers killing 12 people in a revenge attack over the anti-Islam film ridiculing Mohammed.

The early morning blast was the first to target Kabul since a video clip of the film was posted on the internet last week, sparking angry protests across the Muslim world.

It was also the second - and deadliest - attack in Afghanistan that militants have said they carried out as revenge strikes in response to the film.

A spokesman for the Islamist militant group Hizb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was carried out by a 22-year-old woman named Fatima. Suicide bombings by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan - and few if any women drive cars.

"The anti-Islam film hurt our religious sentiments and we cannot tolerate it," the spokesman said.

"There had been several young men who wanted to take revenge but Fatima also volunteered and we wanted to give a chance to a girl for the attack to tell the world we cannot ignore any anti-Islam attack."

He warned of more attacks against foreigners working for Nato.

The bombing was an escalation of violence in the capital, where most attacks are usually blamed on the Haqqani network - a Pakistan-based militant group affiliated with the Taliban and al Qaida.

Eight of the dead were South Africans believed to be working for an aviation company based at Rand Airport in Johannesburg.

Four Afghans also were killed and another 11 Afghan civilians were wounded.

The blast came a day after hundreds of Afghans burned cars and threw stones at a US military base in the capital in a demonstration against the anti-Islam film.

Hizb-i-Islami is headed by 65-year-old former warlord Gubuddin Hekmatyar - a former Afghan prime minister and one-time US ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The group is a radical Islamist militia with thousands of fighters and followers across the country's north and east.

The group has recently been seeking to participate in a so-far fruitless peace and reconciliation effort led by Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Its more moderate parts are thought to have close ties to the Karzai administration and offered a peace plan that called for a broad-based government.

The Taliban have also threatened to increase their attacks against foreign targets as revenge for the controversial film. Taliban fighters last week attacked a large British base in southern Afghanistan, killing two US Marines and destroying six fighter jets. Nato forces killed 14 insurgents and captured another who participated in the attack.