A suicide bomber has targeted a minivan on a highway in the Afghan capital, killing 14 people, eight of them foreign nationals. The Islamic militant group claiming responsibility said it was a response to an Islamophobic American-made film.
Eight of the victims killed by the blast were foreign contract workers and the rest Afghans according to a Reuters report. Eight more Afghans were also injured in the blast.
While original remarks made by deputy police chief General Mohammad Dawod Amin said that the foreigners killed in the attack were Russians and South Africans, the press attaché at the Russian embassy in Kabul issued a statement saying that reports of Russians among the dead could not be confirmed.
“Killed in the microbus at the time of the attack were one citizen of Kyrgyzstan, seven citizens of the Republic of South Africa, and two Afghans; the translator and the driver. Information disseminated by mass media on the apparent death of Russian citizens cannot be confirmed,” Russian press attache Ivan Alekseyev said.
General Amin also said that the foreigners “had a contract with Americans.” Reports also say most of them were working for an air charter company named ACS Ltd.
The Hezb-i-Islami group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by a female suicide bomber in response to the film "Innocence of Muslims."
“We claim credit for the attack by a martyrdom-seeking mujahid, an 18-year-old girl named Fatima, from Kabul, and the attack has been conducted in response to the film insulting the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” said Zubair Sediqqi, a spokesman for the organization.
The blast was detonated in front a gas station on an avenue near Kabul International Airport, and was so powerful that it hurled the minibus at least 50 meters, Kabul police Chief Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi said, according to AP.
“A Toyota Corolla rigged as a car bomb was detonated by one of its occupants near a minibus that was carrying passengers,” he said.
The attack comes in the wake of massive anti-US protests over the provocative film across the Muslim world. The biggest rally took place Monday in Beirut, where over 100,000 took to the streets following a call for mass demonstrations by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.
But Lindsey German from the British Stop the War Coalition told RT that the attack cannot be blamed solely on reactions to the film but was part of a wider dissatisfaction at the NATO led occupation of Afghanistan.
“I don’t think you can see it as just religion, I think this is very much about the role of NATO forces, the role of the occupation, I don’t think you can really explain the sense of anger over this film without looking at the background to it and of course the background to it is that many people have died in Afghanistan,” she said.