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Oct-29-2011 16:34printcomments

Afghanistan Suicide Blast Targets ISAF Convoy - Kills 13 Americans

At least 17 people, including 13 NATO personnel, killed in capital Kabul in attack claimed by Taliban.
Photo snaps from al Jazeera video

(KABUL / SALEM) - Taliban forces are claiming responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul, that left at least 17 people dead, including 13 Americans.

The weapon used in the attack was a VBID (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device); the car packed with explosives rammed a convoy of military vehicles, among which was a bus carrying ISAF soldiers.

It happened Saturday, the personnel were attached to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

ISAF confirms that there were several ISAF service member and local Afghan casualties. Kabul police say Afghan civilians died in the attack, so far they are identified as two young students and an adult male cyclist.

ISAF states that it is their policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.

"Initial reports indicate that 13 International Security Assistance Force service members died following an improvised explosive device attack in Kabul earlier today," the force said in a statement.

A soldier injured in the blast is tended to in the wake of the deadly event.

Zabiullah Mujahid

Zabiullah Mujahid is one of the self proclaimed spokesmen for the Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. He has acted as a media conduit between the isolationist rebel forces and Western media teams. He was interviewed with his back towards the TV camera in early 2009 by CNN reporter Nic Robertson, appearing to be somewhere in Afghanistan. To a question relating to ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing peace, Mujahid indicated it was possible but with conditions.

Shortly after the CNN interview was broadcast, with highlights shared on the CNN web page on May 5, 2009, some jihadi web sites carried denials, some attributed to Mujahid himself, saying the person Robertson interviewed was not Mujahid.

Zabihullah Mujahid is described to be about 30 years old, with a beard, and is little over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. Although his association with Taliban leader Mullah Omar is not confirmed, it is suggested that Mujahid may be representing the Haqqani network or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-e-Islami political party of Afghanistan. The dialect of Pashto language spoken by the man CNN claims was Mujahid during the interview with Robertson is similar to that of Hezb-e Islami, which belongs to the area covering Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, and Paktia.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Gregory with the Pentagon said that five of the US citizens killed were soldiers and eight were contractors. This is an interesting aspect, as most civilian contractors die silently in these wars, no military press releases, no real news about their deaths. A Canadian military spokesperson told Al Jazeera that one of the deceased is a Canadian soldier.

The Attack

The VBID was planted inside of a Toyota, it detonated at 11:20 a.m. local time, in a Toyota vehicle. The explosion rang out in the southwest of the city just as a military bus carrying US soldiers was passing by. It is the deadliest attack against foreign troops in Kabul for many years.

While we don't have direct contact from the Taliban, it is being reported that the group is responsibile for the attack.

Al Jazeera reports that the claim came in the form of a text message to media outlets. It reportedly was sent by Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Kabul, says authorities speculate that the driver of the vehicle with a suicide bomb drove up and down a road near an ISAF base, apparently looking for an opportunity to launch the attack.

Allied Blackhawk helicopters recovered the dead and wounded within an hour

The blast was so severe that it left the bus on its side.

A "very strong" bomb

Blackhawk helicopters were flown to the scene and within an hour, had removed the dead and injured from the scene. The video by Smith carried by al Jazeera shows soldiers trying to treat the wounded and dying in the aftermath of the attack.

A witness who spoke to The AP, named Gulam Saki, said it was, "It was a very strong bomb."

Saki added, "Three civilians were killed, a man, a woman and one child, and two bodies are still under the vehicles."

The Afghans who are killed in these attacks seldom receive mention. However nobody is more impacted by the war than the local populace, they don't get to go home when it's over, alive or dead. They're simply stuck there.

Rooting for more

Little, George

Rather than using the opportunity to admit that the United States and its allies have become hopelessly engaged in a bitter war where no winners are likely, a spokesman for the Pentagon, George Little, told reporters that the attack is a reminder for the US of its mission in Afghanistan.

"Continuing our aggressive pursuit of the enemy will honour their sacrifice, and he [the US Secretary of Defense] is determined that the United States -- working closely with our Afghan and NATO partners -- will do precisely that."

Something tells me that Little spends little time in the field, where the violence happens. Perhaps he needs to read about this history of this place; about the British invasion and loss, about the Soviet occupation that ended in a defeat that spelled an end to the Cold War itself. Of course this attack proves that foreign military serving in Afghanistan doesn't have to go far beyond the 'wire' to die.

More violence

Earlier in the day ISAF reports,, Two International Security Assistance Force service members were killed in southern Afghanistan when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform apparently turned his weapon on Afghan and coalition forces.

The shooter was also killed during this incident.

Also, al Jazeera reports, in the provincial capital of Asadabad, a suicide bomber, said to be in her twenties, blew herself up outside a branch of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Saturday.

Asadabad police said that after waiting at a female-only bus stop for several hours, the chadori [burqa] clad attacker fired at the gate of the NDS offices with a pistol before detonating her explosives.

"A woman suicide attacker detonated her explosives outside the operative directorate of NDS in Asadabad city," said Kunar provincial governor spokesman Wasifullah Wasifi.

"As a result of the explosion two guards of the operative directorate were wounded."

Al Jazeera learned that an intelligence official was shot after the attacker was told to stop just short of the NDS gate. The attack injured two civilians and three security officials, according to hospital statements to local Afghan media.

Again, this was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in recent years.

Link to Al Jazeera's video report by Bernard Smith:


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