KABUL — A car bomb on a busy Kabul road killed at least 12 people Tuesday, including eight foreign workers, in an apparent revenge attack for a video ridiculing the Muslim prophet Muhammad that has sparked protests and riots across the world.
The bomber, apparently a young woman driving a van, struck around 6:30 a.m. on one of the main roads to Kabul’s airport, targeting a minibus full of foreign workers, according an Afghan Ministry of Information spokesman. In addition to the eight foreigners killed, four Afghan civilians died, and eleven more civilians were wounded.
While there have been occasional spectacular attacks in Kabul, most have focused on government or foreign military installations rather than soft targets, such as the many civilian vehicles that carry foreigners through the city each day. After a relatively quiet summer in the capital, during which the Afghan intelligence service has claimed to have thwarted multiple attacks, this marks the second suicide bombing in 10 days, the last one killing several children just outside the International Security Assitance Force’s headquarters.
Hezb-i-Islami, a militant group seldom connected with such attacks claimed responsibility.
In the aftermath of the bombing, the twisted wreckage of the van and several bodies were strewn near a gas station, the windows of two large wedding halls nearby blown out. Suicide attacks are unusual for Hezb-i-Islami but spokesman Zubair Sediqqi said an insult to Islam called for an extreme tactic.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed his group was not behind the attack, though he said they were supportive.
“Naturally it was a very big achievement and we support it,” he said.
Hezb-i-Islami, viewed as more moderate than other insurgent groups and therefore more likely to embrace peace negotiations, claimed the occupants of the mini-bus were American spies and that they had killed 16, though President Hamid Karzai confirmed that the foreigners killed were eight South Africans and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan.
A Hezb-i-Islami spokesman said the bomber was a woman named Fatima, between 18 and 20 years of age, working for a wing of the group known as the Payam-i-Jihad, of Message of Jihad Front.
“To the young Afghan men, you are sleeping and your brave sister carried out a brave jihad,” he said.