Saturday, 23 June 2018

Suicide attack in Afghanistan over leaflet ‘insult’

Afghanistan

KABUL: A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle blew himself up outside an American base in Afghanistan, Afghan officials said, in an attack the Taliban claimed was revenge for a US leaflet deemed highly offensive to Muslims.

US and Afghan authorities confirmed several people were wounded in the late afternoon attack at Bagram Airfield, America’s largest base in the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said it was in retaliation for “their insult to the Islamic creed”.

Nato’s Resolute Support mission said in a statement that “an explosion” had occurred “outside an entry control point” to Bagram that had caused a “small number of casualties”. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah claimed the attacker had killed and wounded “over 20 soldiers”.

Nato forces frequently drop leaflets over large swathes of Afghanistan in an effort to persuade locals against supporting insurgents.

Major General James Linder, who heads the US and Nato special operations forces in Afghanistan, issued a statement apologising for the leaflet design which he said was an “error”.

Meanwhile, The United States will send about 3,500 additional US troops to Afghanistan, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, a figure broadly in line with expectations as the United States boosts support for the Afghan military.

The disclosure by the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, comes as Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford hold closed door briefings with members of Congress about President Donald Trump’s regional strategy.

The Pentagon said it would not comment on additional troop numbers until Mattis makes an announcement. If confirmed, it would bring the total number of US troops in Afghanistan to about 14,500.

After a months-long review of his Afghanistan policy, Trump committed the United States last week to an open-ended conflict in the country and promised a stepped-up campaign against Taliban insurgents.

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