WaPo reports that today’s attack in Kabul was carried out by a suicide bomber who rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the Kabul International Airport. At least 12 people died, including eight South Africans, three Afghans and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan. The report says the Afghan militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack and said it was carried out by a 22-year-old woman named Fatima. It also adds that suicide bombings carried out by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan, where few if any Afghan women drive cars.
VOA quotes Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation:
“We understand from our mission in Islamabad that the eight South Africans were employed by a private aviation company,” said Kgwete. “At the moment the department has the complete list of all the names of the deceased. We are working on establishing contact with the next of kin and also ensuring that we ensure the necessary consular assistance to the families.”
A separate WaPo report says that many of the victims were contract personnel with Air Charter Service, a British-based company that provides services to the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations in Afghanistan. The company’s website did not list its clients but the charter service reportedly has a contract with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to ferry USAID officials around Afghanistan.
These are deaths that will not even be counted when our war casualties are tallied. We may never even know their names. They are not Coalition soldiers or American civilians, they are foreigners in Afghanistan, third country nationals who work as contractors to a USAID contractor that is British-based.
The US Embassy in Kabul released the following condemnation statement:
Condemnation of Suicide Attack in Kabul
September 18, 2012
The U.S. Embassy condemns, in the strongest terms, the suicide bombing that took place this morning near Kabul International airport, killing at least 10 people and injuring several others, including members of the Afghan National Police. Many of the victims were contracted personnel of a private company providing services to USAID and other organizations in Afghanistan. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all of the victims, and we wish for a full recovery to the injured.
The embassy didn’t know how many of them provided services for USAID, only that many of them did. I don’t know why I find that distressful. For 2012 alone, the US Embassy in Kabul has already issued 25 condemnation statements, an average of two a month and it’s just September.
Our blog pal, El Snarkistani in It’s Always Sunny in Kabul lists 5 reasons why this latest suicide attack is a big deal, and in his words, “frighteningly different from the norm here in the Emerald City”:
[T]o review: a) actions by the insurgency are dramatically altering ISAF strategy, b) the insurgents are able to kill foreign civilians in the capital, and c) they’re able to destroy ISAF’s most valuable asset, its airpower.
Thus, if negotiations do occur anytime soon, it’s because the insurgency brought the bigger stick. And if there’s an olive branch involved, they probably impaled the dove on it. Think more Brando’s Don, less Kingsley’s Gandhi.
If this is a weakened insurgency, I’d hate to see what a strong one would look like.
Read his full post here.
- Suicide bomber targets Kabul bus (bbc.co.uk)
- Suicide bomber targets foreigners in Kabul (aljazeera.com)
- Afghan suicide bomb kills 9 in Kabul (edition.cnn.com)
- Afghanistan suicide blast kills 12 in attack on Kabul airport contractors (guardian.co.uk)
- Eight South Africans among the dead in Kabul: ministry – Times LIVE (timeslive.co.za)