A 14-year-old suicide bomber struck outside the heavily barricaded Nato headquarters in Kabul on Saturday, killing six civilians, including child hawkers, as Afghanistan marked a public holiday, officials said.
The bomber wore a vest packed with explosives and rode right up to the Nato gates on a bicycle, underscoring the insurgents’ ability to strike deep inside the Afghan capital, ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign combat forces by the end of 2014.
The Taliban took swift responsibility for the attack, but denied they had deployed a teenage bomber, saying instead he was a 28-year-old who targeted the Kabul offices of the CIA.
“It was one of our mujahedeen targeting CIA officials in Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
The assault defied stepped-up Afghan security measures put in place across Kabul as government dignitaries commemorated 11 years since the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an iconic anti-Taliban commander two days before 9/11.
“It was a suicide attack that killed six people and wounded five others,” interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP. Sediqqi also speculated on his Twitter feed that Saturday’s attack may have been carried out by the Haqqanis.
A senior police official speaking off the record gave the same death toll. “So far, there are six dead and five wounded. Most of the victims are young children who gather around Isaf to sell small items to soldiers leaving or getting into the base,” he said.
A spokesman for International Security Assistance Force said there had been no damage to Isaf headquarters or military casualties.
The US embassy in Kabul said in a statement that using “the most impressionable and vulnerable”, such as a teenager, to carry out such attacks revealed the true nature of the insurgents.
Meanwhile, Pakistan strongly condemned the attack, terming it a “cowardly act by enemies of peace”.
“Pakistan would like to reassure the people and the government of Afghanistan of its full support and cooperation in their efforts to defeat terrorism in the country,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Saturday.
The Foreign Office spokesman said, “We convey our deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the bomb attack.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2012.
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