Kabul bomber kills 12 people, including 8 South Africans

Kabul bombing
Kabul bombing
Afghan officials investigating the wreckage for clues as to the bombing

A female bomber killed 12 people in Kabul on Tuesday in the deadliest single attack over an anti-Islam US film that again sparked furious protests across the Muslim world.

The Kabul bombing brings to more than 30 the number of people who have been killed in a violent backlash over a YouTube trailer for the film, “Innocence of Muslims”, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christians, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish womanizer.

Another potentially explosive publication is also due to hit news stands in France Wednesday after the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo confirmed that its next edition contains several cartoons which feature caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The editor of the weekly, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, said the images would “shock those who will want to be shocked”.

In Afghanistan, Hezb-i-Islami, the second largest insurgent group after the Taliban who have been fighting US-led troops and the government for 10 years, claimed the attack and said it was to avenge the “insult” of the film.

“The bombing was in retaliation for the insult to our Prophet,” spokesman Zubair Sidiqi told AFP in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

Security officials said nine foreigners including South Africans were among those killed on a major highway leading to Kabul airport when the bomber blew up her station wagon alongside a minivan carrying foreign workers.

Taliban fighters last week stormed a British-run airfield, killing two US Marines and destroying six US fighter jets in another act of vengeance.

A week of angry violent protests outside US embassies and other American symbols in at least 20 countries have left some 19 people dead, including the American ambassador to Libya and three other US diplomats in Benghazi.

In Lebanon, the head of Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, which is blacklisted in the United States as a terrorist organisation, made a rare public appearance to warn of “very dangerous” repercussions if the entire film is released.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of southern Beirut to denounce the film at the request of Nasrallah, who has called for a week of protests over the film, describing it as the “worst attack ever on Islam”.

“The US must understand that releasing the entire film will have dangerous, very dangerous, repercussions around the world,” he told the rally.

Al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa urged Muslims to storm US embassies and kill American envoys in Muslim countries to protest the film, monitoring group IntelCenter said.

The film-maker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and fraudster who was sentenced to 21 months in prison in the United States in June 2010, has not been seen since Saturday when he was questioned.

The risks now facing those involved in the production of the film were underlined when a Salafist cleric in Egypt called Monday for the deaths of all those involved in its making.

Before dawn on Monday, officers from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department escorted four members of Nakoula’s family to join him in hiding.

Meanwhile Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered that seven US-based Egyptian Copts be tried over their role in the film, accusing them of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet (Mohammed) and inciting sectarian strife”.

In Pakistan, two protesters died after demonstrating against the film in the northwest, close to the Afghan border, and outside the US consulate in Karachi.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of more than 2,000 protesters trying to reach the US consulate in the city of Peshawar, chanting anti-US slogans and burning the Stars and Stripes flag.

In Indian Kashmir hundreds of Muslims clashed with security forces and burnt a police vehicle.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan blocked access to YouTube, following the video-sharing website’s failure to take down the anti-Islam film. Saudi Arabia and Russia may also follow suit.

Google, which owns YouTube, has also barred access to the film in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Libya and Malaysia.

Violent demonstrations have spread this week after police on Friday battled to defend US missions from mobs in Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen.

In east Jerusalen hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli border police, hurling stones and firebombs at a checkpoint.

In Europe calls surfaced Tuesday on social networks for Muslims in France to defy an official ban and hold fresh protests over the anti-Islam film.

The messages on Twitter and other sites called for demonstrations to be held Saturday in Paris, Marseille and other major cities, a week after police in the capital arrested 150 people for taking part in a rowdy protest near the US embassy.

The United States has deployed counter-terror Marine units to Libya to protect its embassy in Tripoli and stationed two destroyers off the North African coast.

On September 11, its consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi came under sustained attack, killing four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens. – AFP