A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-packed car into a NATO military convoy wounding “a small number” of foreign troops and Afghan civilians Monday in Afghanistan, officials say.
The Taliban swiftly took credit for the afternoon attack near the U.S.-run Bagram military air base.
NATO’s Resolute Support mission said the wounded service members were taken to the Bagram hospital for treatment. “None of the injuries are considered life threatening,” it added, but did not reveal the victims’ nationalities, though reports identified them as American soldiers.
“The Afghan civilians were evacuated to a local hospital and their condition is unknown at this time,” according to the alliance statement.
A Taliban spokesman claimed the powerful blast destroyed three U.S. military vehicles and “killed and wounded 24 ‘invaders,'” a term the insurgent group uses for the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan. The Taliban often releases inflated claims for such attacks.
Leaflets spark retaliation
Last week a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up at an entrance to the Bagram base, injuring “a small number” of U.S. soldiers, according to officials.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it was carried out to take revenge on “American invaders” for air-dropping anti-Islam leaflets in Parwarn.
The controversial leaflets, intended to mock the Taliban, featured the coalition as a lion chasing a white dog, the same color as the insurgent flag. The Muslim profession of faith was superimposed on the dog, which is considered an unclean animal in Islam.
The leaflets also outraged Afghans and prompted calls for bringing those responsible to justice.
A senior U.S. military commander was quick to apologize over the leaflets he deemed “highly offensive” to both Muslims and the religion of Islam.
“I sincerely apologize. … There is no excuse for this mistake,” an official statement quoted Major General James Linder as saying.
The general, who heads the United States and NATO special operations forces in Afghanistan, promised to investigate and find those responsible for the “error.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, while announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan last month, pledged to enhance the troop presence and keep American forces in the country indefinitely. The Taliban responded by saying it will turn Afghanistan into a “graveyard” for foreign forces.
The insurgents have extended their control or influence to more than 40 percent of Afghanistan within the past three years and continue to make battlefield gains.
Monday, the Taliban staged a three-pronged assault on a remote district, Barg-e-Matal, in the eastern province of Nursitan, triggering fierce clashes with Afghan forces.