Teenage suicide bomber kills six near NATO headquarters
09 September, 2012
KABUL: A 14-year-old suicide bomber detonated explosives near the heavily barricaded NATO headquarters in Kabul on Saturday, killing six street children, a day after the United States moved to blacklist the Haqqani faction as a terrorist organisation,
NATO and local officials said. The bomber wore a vest packed with explosives and rode right up to the NATO gates on a bicycle, underscoring the insurgents' ability to strike deep inside the Afghan capital, ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign combat forces by the end of 2014.
Pieces of flesh and splattered blood lay on the street near the base, where the small bodies of children were lifted into ambulances. Scores of young children peddle trinkets and chewing gum around the foreign bases, hoping to earn a bit of cash.
Wailing women in head-to-toe burqas who said they were the dead children's mothers rushed shortly after the attack to the site, where small flip flops lay strewn in the mud.
Kabul police, in a statement to media, said the bomber was 14 years old, without giving details.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) condemned the use of children.
The Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility, but denied they had deployed a teenage bomber, saying instead he was a 28-year-old who targeted the Kabul offices of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avenge US moves to designate as terrorists their most-feared faction. "One of our mujahideen who comes from Logar province carried out the martyrdom attack. The target was a CIA torture cell. As a result six agents were killed," he told agencies by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said six civilians were killed in the attack, which took place just before noon, and five more wounded, including children.
The assault defied stepped-up Afghan security measures put in place across Kabul as national leaders commemorated 11 years since the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an iconic anti-Taliban commander. The blast reverberated through Kabul's diplomatic quarter, which is home to many Western embassies, shortly after First Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim finished an address to scores of dignitaries at an event mourning Massoud.
Sediqqi speculated on his Twitter feed that Saturday's attack may have been carried out by the Haqqanis, the most experienced insurgents in Afghanistan.
On Friday, the United States said that it is designating the Haqqani network, which is blamed for a number of high-profile attacks on Western and Afghan targets in Kabul, a terrorist organisation.
Founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former CIA asset also close to Pakistani intelligence, it is militarily the most capable of the Taliban factions. The network operates independently but remains loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and some of the biggest attacks in Kabul have been attributed to its fighters.
Senior Haqqani commanders told agencies from an undisclosed location that the move showed that the United States was not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan and warned of more attacks on American forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan condemned Saturday's attack as a "cowardly act" carried out by enemies of peace and stability in the region, and pledged support in efforts to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan.
Separate attacks in the south killed nine other people on Saturday, including five policemen in Helmand province, where Britain's Prince Harry has deployed as a helicopter pilot, officials said.