Taliban bomber kills six at NATO base

A Taliban suicide car bomber killed at least six people and wounded another seven Monday, targeting a NATO base at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, following days of deadly anti-US protests.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was in revenge for the burning of Korans at a US military base, which has unleashed six days of violent protests across the country killing at least 30 people.

There were no reports of NATO casualties in the attack, a spokesman for the US-led International Security Assistance Force said.

"According to initial information the ISAF installation was not reached by the explosion," he said.

Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Hazrat Mohammad told AFP that six people had been killed in Monday's bombing.

"The foreign forces have insulted our religion and this attack was revenge," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told AFP.

On Sunday, seven US soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack during an anti-US demonstration at their base in northern Kunduz province, police said.

President Hamid Karzai went on television Sunday to appeal for calm.

Karzai condemned "with the strongest words" the treatment of Islam's holy book and said the perpetrators should be punished, but told his countrymen: "Now that we have shown our feelings it is time to be calm and peaceful."

He said he respected the emotions of Afghans upset by the Koran burning in an incinerator pit at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, but urged them not to let "the enemies of Afghanistan misuse their feelings".

Taliban insurgents have called on Afghans to kill foreign troops in revenge for the incident, and claimed to have been behind the shooting deaths of the two US advisers in the interior ministry in Kabul on Saturday.

The shooting prompted NATO and several European countries to pull their advisers out of Afghan government ministries, while fallout from the Koran burnings widened as Afghan ministers cancelled a visit to Washington.

The Pentagon said Sunday that Afghanistan's defence and interior ministers had cancelled a visit to Washington this week to concentrate on addressing security concerns at home.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "understands why that's a priority and why they are unable to travel to Washington in the coming days", Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

President Barack Obama has apologised for the burning of the Korans, which officials said were inadvertently sent to an incinerator pit.

An Afghan government official said the two US advisers killed at the interior ministry had been mocking anti-US protests over the burning of the Koran in the presence of an Afghan colleague before being shot.

Government sources said police were hunting for an Afghan intelligence official suspected of killing the two Americans.

by Sardar Ahmad © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 27, 2012