Suicide Bombing Of NATO Convoy Kills 12 Americans

A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into an armored NATO bus Saturday, killing 17 people, including 12 Americans and a Canadian in the deadliest attack on the U.S.-led coalition in Kabul since the war began. It was a major setback for the alliance as it begins to draw down combat troops.

The explosion sparked a fireball and littered the street with shrapnel and twisted metal hulks. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage at the site along the four-lane highway frequently used by foreign military trainers in the southwestern section of the city.

Underscoring the difficulties ahead, the brazen assault occurred on the same day that top NATO and Afghan officials were meeting elsewhere in Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in all or part of 17 of the country's 34 provinces.

It also was a blow to efforts by the U.S. and President Hamid Karzai to forge peace with the fundamentalist Taliban movement as NATO plans to withdraw all its combat troops from the country by the end of 2014, with support for the costly war reaching new lows in the West.

NATO said five coalition service members and eight civilian contractors working for the coalition died in the explosion.

A U.S. official said all were Americans, but Canadian defense spokesman, Lt. Col. Christian Lemay, told The Associated Press that a Canadian soldier was among the troopers killed.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three Afghan civilians and one policeman also died in the attack. Eight other Afghans, including two children, were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.

Kabul has increasingly been targeted by attacks in recent years, with many blamed on the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida and Taliban-linked movement that operates out of Pakistan. But NATO already has shifted security responsibilities for the capital to the Afghans and foreign forces have little presence on the streets.

A similar Taliban attack targeted a NATO convoy on the same road in May 2010, when a suicide bomber struck a convoy, killing 18 people. Among the dead were five American troops and a Canadian colonel. But Saturday's strike was the deadliest since the decade-long war began.

The Taliban said the bomber, Abdul Rahman, was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV containing 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives and targeting foreigners providing training for Afghan police. The Taliban, who frequently exaggerate casualty claims, said that 25 people were killed by the blast.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for another suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office in the northwest province of Kunar in which only the bomber was killed. In all, there were three attacks against NATO and Afghan forces, killing at least 21 people.

Elsewhere, a man wearing an Afghan military uniform opened fire on a joint NATO-Afghan base, killing three Australian service members in Uruzgan province, an area in the restive south that is traditionally viewed as the Taliban's stronghold, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said officials were investigating whether the shooter, who was killed in the incident, was a member of the Afghan army or a militant wearing an army uniform.

In Kabul, the armored personnel carrier, known as a Rhino, was sandwiched between of a convoy of mine-resistant military vehicles traveling on the road, a major artery leading to the landmark Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings. The attack occurred near the entrance of the American University.

NATO and Afghan forces sealed off the area as fire trucks and ambulances rushed in. An AP reporter at the scene saw two NATO helicopters landing to airlift casualties, while coalition troops using loudspeakers ordered bystanders to evacuate the area.

One witness, Noor Ahmad, said he saw a coalition soldier choking inside the burned bus.

"The bottom half of his body was burned," Ahmad said.

Coalition troops were seen carrying three black body bags from the burned wreckage and one charred body on a stretcher toward the waiting helicopters.

It was the deadliest single attack against the U.S.-led coalition across the country since the Taliban shot down a NATO helicopter on Aug. 6 in an eastern Afghan province, killing 30 U.S. troops, most elite Navy SEALs, and eight Afghans.

The most recent attack in Kabul occurred on Sept. 20, when an insurgent with a bomb hidden in his turban assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. The insurgent was posing as a peace emissary coming to meet Rabbani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban. Afghan officials blame the Haqqani for that incident.

Earlier Saturday, a female suicide bomber blew herself up as she tried to attack a local government office in the capital of Kunar province, a hotbed of militancy in northeast Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.

Abdul Sabor Allayar, deputy provincial police chief, said the guards outside the government's intelligence office in Asad Abad became suspicious of the woman and started shooting, at which point she detonated her explosives.

Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces conducted operations earlier this month, killing more than 100 insurgents in an effort to curb violence in rugged areas of Kunar where the coalition and Afghan government have a light footprint.

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  • by D Turner Location: Kinston on Oct 29, 2011 at 03:30 PM
    You cannot make a peace deal with terrorists. It will cost more American lives to go back after a withdraw. You kill a snake you don't pamper it because one day it will bite you.
  • by I Fought the Law on Oct 29, 2011 at 02:32 PM
    The war isn't over and never will be in the middle east. I say pull out and let the muslims have at'll never bring democracy to that region. If they bring to the crap back here again like 911 then load the bombers back up again and have at it.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Oct 29, 2011 at 01:02 PM
    More of our finest, gone at the hands of cowards. They will never understand any other way, but the way of destruction. Please, bring our finest Americans home and let them protect us on US soil.
    • reply
      by Mike on Oct 29, 2011 at 02:43 PM in reply to Formerly O.L.I.
      Why don't you go to Raleigh and ask if you can witness a swearing in of men/women taking their oath. All enemies foreign and domestic. The US military is not solely to stand here on our soils and fight. The mission is closewith the enemy. OUR enemies right now are in the mideast. If Barak Obama as CIC thinks he can pull every last troopee out of that region he is the mad hatter. There will be repercussions here. We are fully engaged in a war on "TERRORISM".
  • by me too on Oct 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM
    Ask obama if he cares.Sure,you will get yet another lie.
    • reply
      by 250 on Oct 29, 2011 at 02:56 PM in reply to me too
      C'mon now. Our messiah in the oval office WILL bring all these guys home. They WILL have all the bennies. AND they WILL all be welcomed with open arms, into the work force . The work force that will need men and women for "all" the jobs created here in country ON our soil! Haven't you, "me too" been hearing anything the man has said. AND it will all happen miraculously on innauguration day. One day that he will not/should not receive his "formal invite" to be in attendance at. I must go. My rant is over, I am out of sarchasm for the rest of the weekend now on this post alone. Oh me oh my.
  • by me Location: Bayboro on Oct 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM
    Bringing the troops home is just a political move for Obama. The war is not over and anyone with common since knows that. The enemy is just waiting for us to leave.
    • reply
      by 250 on Oct 29, 2011 at 04:10 PM in reply to me
      Straight democratic ticket vote for me boys. Walk in grab it punch one hole and be home in time for dinner. What mama cooks will be determined by how much is left on our EBT card. Yeah baby! C'mon 2012. "Click" is the sound of the sarchasm switch going back into the off position.

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