8 South Africans killed in Afghanistan

International Relations Dept. confirmed that 8 South Africans were killed in a suicide blast in Kabul.

A suicide bomber blew herself up alongside a minivan carrying foreigners on a major highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital, police said, killing at least 10 people, including nine foreigners. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of International Relations on Tuesday confirmed that eight South Africans were killed in a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan.

A suicide bomber killed a total of 12 foreign civilians and three Afghans near an airport in the region.

The exact details of the blast are still unclear, but it is believed the South Africans were at a garage in Kabul at the time of the attack.

Reports said a female suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the garage, where the foreigner's minibus had stopped to refuel.

Eyewitness News understands the victims were employed by South African aviation company, Balmoral Central Contracts, based at Rand Airport in Johannesburg.

The company has set up an inquiries desk for friends and relatives to get more information about incident.

Nelson Kgwete of the department said they received numerous inquiries from South Africans concerned about family members working in Afghanistan.

He said they have already begun contacting the next of kin.

"We do have all the names of the deceased. We are currently establishing contact with their families."

A spokesperson for the insurgent group, Hezb-e-Islami has since claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was in revenge for an anti-Islamic film that has seen uprisings across the Arab, Asian and some western countries.

A short film, mocking Prophet Muhammed was produced with private funds in the United States (US) and posted on the internet.

The video has been blamed for a violent attack on US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.

US and other foreign embassies have since been stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East


Afghan militants that claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack said it was retaliation for a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad.

A short film made with private funds in the United States and posted on the Internet has ignited days of demonstrations in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and in some Western countries.

In a torrent of violence blamed on the film last week, the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack in Benghazi and U.S. and other foreign embassies were stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by furious Muslims. At least nine other people were killed.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew up a minivan near the airport in the Afghan capital and a spokesman for the Hezb-e-Islami insurgent group claimed responsibility.

"A woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up in response to the anti-Islam video," said militant spokesman Zubair Sediqqi. Police said the woman may have been driving a Toyota Corolla car rigged with explosives, which she triggered.

But the claim will raise fears that anger over the film will feed into deteriorating security as the United States and other Western countries try to protect their forces from a rash of so-called insider attacks by Afghan colleagues.

Thousands of protesters clashed with police in Kabul the previous day, burning cars and hurling rocks at security forces in the worst outbreak of violence since February rioting over the inadvertent burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers.

The protesters in Kabul and several other Asian cities have vented their fury over the film at the United States, blaming it for what they see as an attack on Islam.

The outcry saddles U.S. President Barack Obama with an unexpected foreign policy headache as he campaigns for re-election in November, even though his administration has condemned the film as reprehensible and disgusting.

In response to the violence in Benghazi and elsewhere last week, the United States has sent ships, extra troops and special forces to protect U.S. interests and citizens in the Middle East, while a number of its embassies have evacuated staff and are on high alert for trouble.

Despite Obama's efforts early in his tenure to improve relations with the Arab and Muslim world, the violence adds to a host of problems including the continued U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, Iran's nuclear programme, the Syrian civil war and the fall-out from the Arab Spring revolts.