Saturday, April 16, 2011

Afghan suicide bomber kills 9 troops

Afghan suicide bomber kills 9 troops

Afghan policemen keep watch at the site of a suicide attack that killed three officers Friday in Kandahar province. The next morning, another suicide bomber killed nine soldiers at a base near Jalalabad in Laghman province.

Five NATO and four Afghan soldiers died Saturday morning at the Afghan military's eastern headquarters after a suicide bomber dressed in an army uniform approached the base on foot and blew himself up.

The explosion also injured four Afghan soldiers and four translators, according to Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

In an email to journalists, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest assault against foreign forces this year. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the bomber was from Day Kundi province in central Afghanistan.

"A month ago, he joined with the Afghan army and his aim was to carry out the suicide attack," Mujahid said. "Today, when there was a meeting going on between Afghan and foreign soldiers, he used the opportunity to carry out the attack."

Militants have conducted an increasing number of attacks in the east and north since many of them were routed from their strongholds in the south by an influx of tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO forces last year.

The assailant approached the base, located in Laghman province near the city of Jalalabad, and detonated a vest of explosives at about 7:30 a.m. local time at the entrance, Azimi said.

"The attacker had the Afghan security force uniform on and that gave him the opportunity to reach the entrance to the base and carry out the attack," Azimi said.

NATO issued a statement confirming that five soldiers in its International Security Assistance Force, as the deployment to Afghanistan is known, were killed in "an insurgent attack."

The nearly 100 ISAF troops posted at the base are there mainly to train Afghan army soldiers, NATO spokesman Maj. Tim James said.

The military alliance did not release further information on the service members killed pending notification of their next of kin.

Saturday's attack was the deadliest against foreign forces since a car bomber killed six U.S. soldiers in December in the province of Kandahar.

It came on the heels of a suicide bombing on Friday in which a Taliban fighter disguised in a police uniform made his way into the outer perimeter of police headquarters in Kandahar and blew himself up, killing the provincial police chief and two other officers.

More than 120,000 foreign soldiers are serving in Afghanistan, two-thirds from the United States. Canada's military mission to the country counts about 2,900 forces, most of whom are based in Kandahar in the south.