The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an explosion near Bagram airfield in , saying it was retaliation for the US distributing propaganda material that insulted Islam.
Six civilians were injured when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives outside an entry checkpoint to the base, according to local officials.
Earlier on Wednesdaythe in Afghanistan apologised for droppingleaflets featuring a passage from the Qur’an superimposed on to the image of a dog.
The leaflets depicted a lion chasing a dog bearing a Qur’anic passage that appears on banners used by militants. However, the passage used is also the basic Islamic statement of faith, and associating one of Islam’s most sacred texts with a dog, considered unclean in Islam, could cause offence.
Afghan civilians count cost of renewed US air campaign
Maj Gen James Linder, the US special operations commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement: “I sincerely apologise. We have the deepest respect for Islam and our Muslim partners worldwide. There is no excuse for this mistake.
“I am reviewing our procedures to determine the cause of this incident and to hold the responsible party accountable. Furthermore, I will make appropriate changes so this never happens again.”
The leaflet drop was the latest in a series of perceived insults to Afghans by , which have undermined goodwill and threatened to roll back hard-fought gains.
In 2012, US soldiers mistakenly burned a stack of Qur’ans while incinerating a collection of damaged books and texts from the library at Bagram airfield. The burning prompted protests across the country, during which several people were killed.
The same year, a film of US marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters prompted an official investigation and criminal charges.
For years, foreign soldiers have entered homes without invitation during searches, unleashed dogs on villagers and searched through women’s quarters, violating deeply held customs.
Dropping propaganda leaflets is a basic part of military psychology operations, and has been widely used by coalition forces in Afghanistan. In August, unidentified planes dropped leaflets on Ghazni province saluting all Taliban fighters on the occasion of Eid. The message contained a photo of the late Taliban leader , who was killed in 2016, probably trying to imply that he was still alive and that the current leader, , was illegitimate.
The method has at times had detrimental outcomes. In 2009 a box of leaflets dropped from an RAF plane in Helmand after it failed to open in mid-air.
The recent leaflet reads: “Take back your freedom from the terrorist dogs and cooperate with coalition forces so they can identify and eliminate your enemy.”
The governor of Parwan, Mohammad Asim, condemned the dog image as “unforgivable” but said he and other leaders had tried to mediate.
He said Parwan, home to the former Bagram airfield, was traditionally overwhelmingly anti-Taliban, but insulting Islam made people angry.
“The Americans made a big mistake. The youths and the religious scholars are all upset. They were about to react, and we tried to stop them because if they make a protest the enemy will use it against us,” he said. “The coalition forces don’t know our culture very well, that’s why they made this mistake.”
Ghulam Bahauddin Jilani, the head of the provincial council, said he had met the Americans and received an apology but added: “The people want whoever is responsible arrested and put on trial.”
Last week what appeared to be in Logar, east of Kabul, including children. The US said it was investigating the strike.