May 16, 2013

Bomb kills 15, including 6 Americans, in Afghanistan

An Islamic militant group claims responsibility for the suicide attack on a U.S. convoy, citing U.S. plans to keep permanent bases in the country.

The Associated Press

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French soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, carry the body of a victim killed from a suicide car bomber who attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 16, 2013. A Muslim militant group, Hizb-e-Islami, claimed responsibility for the early morning attack, killing many in the explosion and wounding tens, police and hospital officials said. The powerful explosion rattled buildings on the other side of Kabul and sent a pillar of white smoke into the sky in the city's east. (AP Photo/Ahmad Nazar)

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A U. S soldier secures the area where a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 16, 2013. A Muslim militant group, Hizb-e-Islami, claimed responsibility for the early morning attack, killing many in the explosion and wounding tens, police and hospital officials said. The powerful explosion rattled buildings on the other side of Kabul and sent a pillar of white smoke into the sky in the city's east. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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A small American force is expected to remain in the country to assist Afghans in keeping security, but the exact number or mission has not yet been decided.

Hizb-e-Islami is headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a 65-year-old former Afghan prime minister and onetime U.S. ally. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers in the country's north and east.

The U.S. heavily financed Hekmatyar's government during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In recent years, Afghan and NATO troops have been trying to hunt him down. In 2010, U.S. bombs targeted his military chief, Kashmir Khan, in Kunar province; Khan was wounded but survived.

However, Hekmatyar's son-in-law has held peace talks with Karzai and American officials. Hizb-e-Islami has a political arm with a significant number of seats in parliament, though it has tried to distance itself from Hekmatyar and violence. Several of Karzai's senior aids in the past have been affiliated with Hekmatyar.

In a further sign of the complexities of the Afghan insurgency, Hizb-e-Islami is also a rival to the Taliban insurgency, even though both movements share the goal of driving out foreign troops and establishing a state that would follow a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Hekmatyar and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Omar, are said to be bitter personal enemies.

Thursday's attack was the second in eight months claimed by Hizb-e-Islami, the last one in September when a female suicide car bomber killed least 12 people in Kabul. At the time, Hizb-e-Islami said the attack was revenge for the film "Innocence of Muslims," which was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen and infuriated Muslims for its negative depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

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A U.S. soldier arrives to the scene where a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday.

The Associated Press

  


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