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2 Afghans killed in bombing at base where U.S. soldiers burned Quran

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two Afghan civilians were killed and four wounded on Monday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance to the U.S.-run Bagram Air Base, where Qurans were burned by U.S. soldiers last month, local officials said.

"Two boys aged 14 and 15 were killed and four laborers were wounded," said Ayub Salangi, the governor of Parwan province, where the base is located.

Salangi said he had no information about casualties among the U.S. and international forces that use the base. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force, confirmed there was an explosion outside the base but said that the cause of the explosion was unclear and that there were no reports of coalition fatalities.

"We have no operational information about breaches to the compound," said the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobsen.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was carried out by a "holy warrior" in revenge for the recent burning of Qurans and other religious materials at Bagram.

The Feb. 21 incident angered many Afghans and sparked nationwide demonstrations that left at least 30 dead and more than 100 wounded, and seriously complicated U.S. plans to work closely with Afghan forces before handing security responsibilities over to them.

A Pentagon investigation last week found five soldiers responsible in the incident. U.S. officials have stressed that the incident was inadvertent, and there was no indication that the soldiers had violated military laws, but Pentagon officials were still determining whether they will face disciplinary action.

Afghanistan's Islamic Clerics Council responded Friday by condemning the Quran burnings as a "satanic act" that was unforgiveable. It said in a statement that those responsible should be publicly tried and punished.

In a separate suicide attack Monday in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, one Afghan intelligence officer was killed and 11 people wounded, including eight civilians, the Ministry of Interior said.

A suicide bomber approached a checkpoint in the center of the city where security personnel were checking vehicles for illegal weapons, and his explosive vest detonated, according to Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the spokesman for Nangarhar's provincial governor.

(Safi is a McClatchy special correspondent.)


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