2 U.S. soldiers wounded in thwarted suicide blast in Afghanistan

 

By Ali Safi

Two U.S. soldiers and 11 Afghan civilians were injured Tuesday when a suicide truck bomb exploded outside a coalition base in the eastern province of Logar, provincial officials said.

The Logar incident followed the bombing of a minibus in Kabul that killed eight civilians.

Elsewhere, two members of the International Security Assistance Force, the official name for the U.S.-led coalition, died in insurgent attacks, one in eastern Afghanistan and the other in southern Afghanistan.

Logar’s police chief, Ghulam Sakhi, said the truck bomb’s explosives had been hidden under construction materials. He said U.S. soldiers guarding the base in Puli Alam, Logar’s provincial capital, stopped the truck at the gate to the base and questioned its driver. When the soldiers became suspicious, the bomber detonated his load.

James Graybeal, a spokesman for U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan, confirmed that there had been a “vehicle-borne explosion” outside an ISAF facility in Logar. He declined to provide details on casualties.

The 11 victims who were wounded in the attack were Afghan workers reporting to the base and waiting at the entrance for security checks, Sakhi said.

Taliban-led insurgents claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement and said one of their “holy warriors” carried out the attack.

The statement said that “such attacks have a message to the Americans that Afghan Muslims and a brave nation cannot accept the American headquarters and military bases in their country.”

Security in Logar, which borders the southern part of Kabul, has deteriorated significantly in recent months, and the influx of Taliban have become a frequently voiced concern for residents and government officials alike. Just last week, during an impeachment session in Afghanistan’s lower house of Parliament, the interior minister called for more security assistance for Logar.

The minibus was traveling through the Paghman district in western Kabul carrying villagers from nearby Khaldari when it struck a roadside bomb at 5:20 a.m., according to a statement from the Interior Ministry.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Police arrested a local resident who had a remote-control device that they said had been used to detonate the bomb.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack in a statement from his office. “They will achieve nothing but public abhorrence and severe punishment in the court of almighty Allah,” Karzai said in the statement.

ISAF declined to release the nationalities of the two slain coalition soldiers and provided few details of their deaths, except that one was killed in an ambush and the other by a roadside bomb. ISAF rarely provides specifics of attacks on its forces.

Safi is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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