US civilians die in suicide bombing at military base

Attacker detonated explosive vest inside complex near Pakistan border

A suicide bomber killed eight American civilians in an attack at a military base in south-eastern Afghanistan yesterday.

The explosion happened inside Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, near the Afghan border with Pakistan, US officials said. The base is a centre for civilians working on reconstruction projects, a key part of President Barack Obama's strategy to stabilise Afghanistan. The blast also injured an unspecified number people, none of whom were thought to have been US or Nato troops.

Asked whether the suicide blast occurred inside the base, one official said: "That's my understanding." Another senior official confirmed that the attack involved an explosive vest.

Many civilians working outside Kabul have retreated into army bases as the security situation in the country as a whole has deteriorated. Foreign aid agencies warned earlier this year that the shift into the military bases, and the use of military personnel to carry out development projects, risked a dangerous blurring of the boundaries between troops and civilians.

The number of civilians killed this year in Afghanistan has reached record levels, and yesterday's strike represents one of the largest losses of foreign civilian life since Western forces invaded the country in 2001. Suicide attackers targeted United Nations employees at a guesthouse in Kabul in October, killing five and wounding several others.

After that incident, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Afghanistan and Pakistan were the most dangerous places for UN civilian staff.

Washington is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the violence, with Nato members contributing thousands more. The Obama administration has also pledged a "civilian surge" in Afghanistan, sending hundreds of US experts to work on development projects that aim to undermine support for the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

Khost is one of the areas of Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, and most foreigners there are troops or working under military protection. In September a suicide bomber rammed a car into a military convoy of foreign forces in the area, killing one American. Afghan civilian casualties have also been increasing, raising tensions between the Afghan government and Western forces.

The attack came on the day that an Afghan presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in eastern Afghanistan concluded that civilians – including children – were killed in an attack involving foreign troops, disputing Nato reports that the dead were insurgents.

Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, told the Associated Press that eight children between the ages of 12 and 14 were among the dead discovered in a house in the Narang district of Kunar province. A Nato official has said initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that those killed were all young male insurgents.

Several hundred Afghans protested against the deaths yesterday in Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad, where they burnt an effigy of President Obama and a US flag, chanting "death to Obama and Karzai". In Kabul, protesters chanted: "Unity, unity, death to the enemy of Islam!" and a protester with a bullhorn called on Mr Obama to "take your soldiers out of Afghanistan".

Mr Wafa said he was convinced that all those killed in the Kunar incident were civilians. "I have talked to the principal of the school in the village and he gave us details about the killed children," he said. "The schoolchildren cannot be al-Qa'ida. I confirm they are innocent people killed by mistake. I talked to President Karzai about the findings."

The bodies had already been buried by the time Mr Wafa's team arrived, but Colonel Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said yesterday that America was investigating the allegations together with the Afghan authorities.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?