KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed a small sedan heavily laden with explosives into a mini-bus believed to be carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital early Tuesday, killing at least nine people.
Kabul police chief Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi said the large explosion took place on an avenue northwest of the city center near Kabul International Airport. The blast, which went off in front a gas station, was so powerful it hurled the mini-bus at least 50 meters (yards).
The criminal director for the Kabul police department, Mohammad Zahir, said at least seven or eight men that were believed to be foreign nationals working for an aviation company at the airport died in the blast. The discrepancy in the death toll was attributed to the damage cause by the blast. He said their Afghan driver was also killed.
An AP reporter at the scene of the blast aw at least six bodies next to the destroyed mini-bus.
No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack, but there were fears that it could have been carried out in reprisal for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. The Taliban have threatened to increase their attacks against foreign targets to avenge the film. Other insurgent groups are also active in Afghanistan.
It came one day after hundreds of Afghans burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base in the capital as a demonstration against the film turned violent. One police vehicle was burned by the mob before they finally dispersed around midday Monday.
An eyewitness at the scene said he was waiting for a bus to go to work at 6:45 a.m. when he saw a small white sedan ram into the mini-bus.
"The explosion was so powerful and loud that I could not hear anything for 10 minutes," said Abdullah Shah, a teacher waiting at a bus stop. "It was early and there wasn't much traffic or there would have been many dead."