Suicide Attack Kills Nine Amid Protests in Afghanistan

Posted February 27th, 2012 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Nine people have been killed in a suicide car bombing outside the gates of a NATO base and airport in the Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The Taliban said it carried out Monday's attack in revenge for last week's Quran burning at Bagram Air Base. Close to 40 people, including four U.S. military personnel, have died in nearly a week of protests since the incident.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the suicide car bombing as “inhuman and un-Islamic.” Officials say six civilians, an Afghan soldier and two guards were killed in the blast. Twelve others were wounded, but no NATO troops were among the casualties.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said insurgents failed in their attempt to attack a NATO facility. He said the coalition remains “steadfast in our desire to support our Afghan partners in eradicating “this heartless insurgency.”

The violence has continued despite apologies for the Quran burning from U.S. President Barack Obama and appeals for calm from President Karzai.

On Sunday, a protester was killed and seven American soldiers wounded in a grenade attack at a U.S. base in northern Kunduz province. Two U.S. military advisors were shot dead Saturday at the Interior Ministry in Kabul, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

All international military personnel working in Afghan government offices were recalled after the shooting.

And on Monday, the United Nations announced it was pulling its international staff from an office in Kunduz after it came under attack from protesters on Saturday.

The U.N. said the staff will be relocated within Afghanistan and that additional arrangements and measures would be put in place to “ensure the office can continue to operate in safety.”

Also Monday, the Taliban claimed an Afghan cook working on their behalf poisoned the food at a NATO base in eastern Afghanistan. A NATO spokesman said traces of bleach were found in food at a dining facility, but it was unclear if the food was tainted intentionally. The spokesman said no one got sick.

The U.S. Embassy has been in lockdown since the violent demonstrations erupted last week and has warned of a “heightened” threat to Americans in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker told CNN that tensions are running very high. “I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business.”

Afghan defense and interior ministers have postponed scheduled trips to the United States this week so they could remain in Afghanistan to monitor the situation.