South African aviators among 12 dead in Kabul car bombing

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- Nine foreigners and three Afghan citizens were killed on Tuesday when a female suicide bomber rammed her explosives-laden car into a minibus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul, officials said. An insurgent group said it was in revenge for a controversial anti-Islam film.

The attack occurred at around 6:45 a.m. local time on Tuesday when a suicide bomber drove her sedan into a minibus carrying aviators from South African charter company ACS/Balmoral. It happened in District 15 near a gas station on a highway leading to Kabul International Airport.

Kabul police said in a brief statement that the bombing left at least twelve people killed, including nine workers of a foreign company and three Afghan citizens. Eleven others were injured, including members of the Afghan National Police, but their conditions were not immediately known.

ACS/Balmoral, which operates aircraft in some of the world's most dangerous areas, said it was "deeply saddened" by the loss of lives among its staff in Kabul. "We are in the process of notifying the next of kin and our main focus now remains with the families of the innocent victims, who tragically lost their lives," a company spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: "Our prayers and thoughts are with them, and all our staff remaining in Kabul. It's a sad and difficult time we face, and we would appreciate and appeal to your humanity in allowing us all, and especially the families, to have the time to grieve the loss of loved ones."

The company did not say how many of its staff were killed, but the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation said eight South African nationals were among those killed in the bombing. The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai identified the ninth foreigner as a citizen from Kyrgyzstan.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said ACS/Balmoral was providing services to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations in Afghanistan. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said no U.S. citizens were among the victims.

"I am deeply saddened by the deaths of the South Africans, as well as the other lives that were lost during this tragic incident," South African President Jacob Zuma said in response to the news, adding that families of the victims are receiving support through the consular. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased."

The Hezb-i-Islami insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that it was carried out as revenge to an anti-Islam film which has triggered a series of violent protests across Muslim countries. The group said the attack was carried out by a young woman who volunteered to carry out the bombing.

The controversial 14-minute English-language trailer for an amateur movie called "Innocence of Muslims," produced in the U.S. state of California by a U.S. citizen, reportedly cost more than $5 million to make and has 59 actors. The movie depicts Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse. It also includes other claims considered insulting.

More than 50 people have been killed in violence linked to the film's release. Among those killed is U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans who were killed last week in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The attack also left several people injured.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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