Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a minibus that killed 12 people, including 7 foreigners, near Kabul airport on Tuesday and said it was launched in retaliation for a film mocking the Prophet Mohammed.
“A woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up in response to the anti-Islam video,” said Zubair Sediqqi, a spokesman for Hezb, which does not usually carry out such attacks, according to Reuters.
A senior police source said seven of those killed were foreigners working for an international courier company.
An Afghan official confirmed the death toll and said that two Afghan policemen were wounded. “The foreigners were from a private company working at the airport,” the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The attack took place on the eight-lane highway in front of a wedding hall, but at the time of the blast, sometime after 6:30 am (0200 GMT), the road would have been deserted.
Witnesses said there was smoke spewing into the sky and a heavy police deployment at the scene of the attack, contributing to a major traffic snarl-up on the busy road.
The attack underscored growing anger in Afghanistan over the film, which has enraged much of the Muslim world and led to the killing last week of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
Thousands of protesters clashed with police in the Afghan capital on Monday, burning cars and hurling rocks at security forces in the worst outbreak of violence since February rioting over the inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran by U.S. soldiers.
The suicide attack was the first in Kabul involving a woman and the foreigners killed were mostly Russian and South African pilots working for an international courier company, senior police sources said.
The toll was the highest on foreigners in the city since last April when an Afghan air force pilot gunned down eight U.S. military flight instructors and an American civilian adviser after an argument at Kabul International Airport.
Hezb-e-Islami, which means Islamic Party, is a radical militant group which shares some of the Taliban's anti-foreigner, anti-government aims.
On Sept. 8, a suicide bomber killed at least six people, most of them children, outside ISAF headquarters in Kabul in an attack that the Taliban claimed targeted the CIA to avenge U.S. moves to blacklist its Haqqani network as a terrorist organization.
Tuesday’s attack came after a devastating few days for NATO in which six of its soldiers were shot dead by suspected Afghan police, the Taliban destroyed six U.S. fighter jets in an unprecedented assault of a major base in the south and one of its air strikes killed eight Afghan women.
NATO insists the insurgency in Afghanistan is on the back foot with Afghan forces taking the lead over 75 percent of the population, as part of the phased departure of most Western troops.