Afghanistan attack that kills 12 is response to anti-Islam film

NATO denies curbing Afghan joint patrols over ‘insider’ attacks.

An insurgent group that carried out a suicide attack killing 12 people in Afghanistan on Tuesday said it was in response to the anti-Islam film that has angered the Muslim world, CNN informs. Eight of those who died were South Africans, the South Africa Press Agency reported, quoting diplomatic spokesman in Pakistan. “They worked for a private aviation company operating in the country,” Nelson Kgwete of the SA High Commission in Islamabad told SAPA. Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, a group allied with the Taliban, said a 22-year-woman named “Fatima” drove a car packed with 660 pounds (300 kg) of explosives into a van on a road leading to the Kabul International Airport. Eleven others were wounded in the attack, the interior ministry said. NATO denied yesterday that it restricted operations with Afghan troops following the string of deadly attacks on its personnel by rogue Afghan security forces. In a communiqué, the military Alliance says: “ISAF remains absolutely committed to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our Security Force Assistance (SFA) counterparts. (…) Partnering occurs at all levels, from Platoon to Corps. This has not changed”. However, NATO says that in response to elevated threat levels resulting from the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video, ISAF has taken some prudent, but temporary, measures to reduce our profile and vulnerability to civil disturbances or insider attacks. “This means that in some local instances, operational tempo has been reduced, or force protection has been increased.  These actions balance the tension of the recent video with force protection, while maintaining the momentum of the campaign.  We’ve done this before in other high tension periods and it’s worked well. Under this guidance, and as conditions change, we will continue to adapt the force posture and force protection”. Video footage of the aftermath of the attack showed a charred vehicle smoldering on the road as military officials milled about. Deployment of a female car bomber is an anomaly in Afghanistan, where women are usually not allowed to drive, and may highlight the increased use of tactics recently by the Taliban to avoid detection leading up to an attack. Afghan insurgents who staged a daring, well-planned raid on Camp Bastion on Friday, the military base where Britain’s Prince Harry is serving, were wearing U.S. Army uniforms. Recent green on blue attacks, in which Afghan army troops open fire on allied ISAF soldiers, represent yet another cloaking tactic in the Islamist militia’s clandestine game, Bozorghmia says. The Taliban “have sleepers inside the army.” Such insiders could have also gained access to the U.S. Army uniforms insurgents wore in Friday’s attack. In a news conference, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta told reporters he was concerned about the effect of insider attacks. But he insisted they did not mean the Taliban was getting stronger or regaining lost territory. He said the US would do all it could to minimise risks to its forces, but “we will not lose sight of the fundamental mission here, which is to continue to proceed to assure a peaceful transition to Afghan security and governance”.

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