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Taliban claims responsibility for bomb attack, poisoning in Afghanistan

Published: February 27, 2012 | 8:09 am
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Kabul, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives Monday near a NATO base at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, an attack that follows a week of deadly violence spurred by the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base.
At least nine people were killed and 12 wounded in the early morning explosion near the airport’s front gate, Gen. Abdullah Hazim Stanikzai, the provincial police chief, said. There were no NATO casualties.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was retaliation for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base.
In a statement, the group said it hoped “these attacks will continue with the anger of the public.”
The insurgency in Afghanistan is often scattered, and it was not immediately clear whether the attack near the International Security Assistance Force base was indeed carried out in reaction to the Quran burning or whether it was a long-planned assault that the Taliban was now seizing on for political capital.
The Taliban also claimed Monday to be behind the poisoning of food at a dining facility at Forward Operating Base Torkham, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. It too was a retaliatory attack, the group said.
ISAF confirmed that food at the base appeared to have been tampered with over the weekend.
“Nobody got sick. An Afghan dining facility worker came to his leaders at the FOB and said that something had been poisoned,” Maj. David Eastburn, an ISAF spokesman, said.
“The dining facility was shut down and we brought in environmental health, who found traces of chlorine bleach in the coffee and fruit. Soldiers are now eating pre-prepared rations and no one was affected. There is a full investigation that is narrowing down who was responsible.”
The Taliban has frequently exaggerated its claims or claimed responsibility for attacks that later turned out to be the work of another group.
Even so, Monday’s bombing and news of the poisoning incident come on the heels of a week of violent protests in Afghanistan that has left dozens dead, including four American soldiers.
Even so, the bombing comes on the heels of a week of violent protests in Afghanistan that has left dozens dead, including four American soldiers.
U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, have apologized for the burning and called it inadvertent. A military official — speaking on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the issue — said the materials were from a detainee center’s library and had “inscriptions” that appeared to be used to “facilitate extremist communications.”
Such statements, or explanations, haven’t stopped protests from Muslims in Afghanistan, who believe the Quran is the word of God and desecrating it is an affront — an act of intolerance and bigotry
Demonstrators on Sunday attacked a U.S. military base in the northern Kunduz province, police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini said.
Some threw hand grenades at the base, known as Combat Outpost Fortitude, injuring seven U.S. personnel believed to be Special Forces members, he said.
Another 16 protesters suffered injuries as grenades, pistols, knives, sticks and stones were used to attack a police chief’s office in Kunduz, Hussaini said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that such unrest and targeting of Americans has gotten “out of hand and needs to stop.”
She urged Afghans to abide by the call of their president, Hamid Karzai, for calm.


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