Taliban Claim Suicide Attack on U.S. Base over Koran Burningإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed at least two civilians at a U.S. military base near the Afghan capital Kabul Monday, saying it was revenge for the burning of Korans there.
"A suicide attacker came out of a truck and blew up his vest outside Bagram airfield (at a gate used by supply vehicles)," provincial governor Abdul Basir Salangi told Agence France Presse.
"As a result, two people are killed and four wounded, all were civilians." A spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that no soldiers had been killed, adding that reports put the death toll at between two and five civilians.
"They didn't breach the base. We have blocked off the area with Afghan security forces," he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an SMS message to AFP: "Around 5:00 pm (1230 GMT), one of our fighters attacked the third gate of the Bagram airfield in revenge for the Koran burning.
"As a result, a number of Americans were killed and wounded in the attack."
The incident in which Korans were sent to an incinerator pit at the Bagram base two weeks ago ignited days of violent anti-U.S. protests in which some 40 people died, including six U.S. soldiers killed by their Afghan colleagues.
While U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized for the incident and street protests have died down, relations between foreign forces and their Afghan allies have hit an all-time low.
Afghanistan's top religious council last week demanded that those responsible for the burning of Islam's holy book should be put on public trial.
The results of an inquiry into the incident have not been released, but The Washington Post has reported that five U.S. soldiers were involved.
Citing U.S. military officials, the Post said an investigation had established that the soldiers removed the Korans from a prison at the Bagram air base, north of Kabul, after they were found to contain extremist messages.
The books were placed in an office for safekeeping, only to be mistaken for garbage and taken to a landfill where Afghan employees identified them as Korans just as the pages caught fire, according to the investigation.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has used public outrage over the incident to press his demand that the Bagram prison be handed over to Afghan control.
Last Monday a suicide car bombing -- also claimed by the Taliban to be in revenge for the Koran incident -- targeted NATO troops at an airport in eastern Afghanistan, killing nine people but no foreign soldiers.
The U.S.-led NATO force has 130,000 troops fighting the Taliban, who were toppled from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Just hours before the attack on Bagram, a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at a police checkpoint in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing a member of Afghan security forces and wounding eight, the interior ministry said.