The Haqqani insurgent network was behind the powerful truck bomb that wounded 77 U.S. soldiers and killed five Afghans, the Pentagon said Monday.
The Taliban had claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack outside a combat outpost in eastern Wardak province. But Defense Department press secretary George Little said Monday that it was Haqqani operatives, adding it was highly likely their top leadership supported and was aware of the attack.
The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based group affiliated with both the Taliban and al-Qaida. It has emerged as one of the biggest threats to stability in Afghanistan.
"This was not some guy with a suicide vest; this was a large, large vehicle with a large amount of explosive material," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "You don't conduct that kind of attack without good resourcing, good planning and a fair level of coordination."
The massive bomb loaded on a truck filled with firewood exploded Saturday night just outside the gates of Combat Outpost Sayed Abad. Officials said four of those killed were civilians, including a 3-year-old girl. Another 17 people _ 14 civilians and three policemen _ were wounded. The provincial governor said the blast was so powerful it damaged about 100 shops in the Sayed Abad bazaar, located near the military base.