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Suicide bomber tries to attack U.S. base in Afghanistan

March 5, 2012 |  8:03 am

REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Reflecting continuing tensions over the burning of Korans at Bagram air base, a suicide bomber tried Monday to breach an outer gate of the giant U.S.-run installation north of Afghanistan's capital.

The attack killed two Afghan laborers who were leaving the base, the provincial governor said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in a text message sent to journalists, but the claim could not be immediately verified. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a number of violent incidents that took place as riots rocked the country last month over what U.S. officials have called the inadvertent burning of copies of the Muslim holy book at Bagram.

Monday's bombing took place about 6 p.m. as many workers were leaving the base. Abdul Basir Salangi, the governor of Parwan province, where the base is located, said the bomber ran toward a gate manned by Afghan security forces and detonated his explosives there. Four Afghan workers were wounded, he said.

A spokesman for the NATO force said there were no Western fatalities.

It was the second suicide blast to take place Monday in eastern Afghanistan. Earlier, an attacker in Jalalabad, the main hub of the east, blew himself up in a busy part of the city. The mid-afternoon explosion killed an Afghan intelligence officer and injured a dozen other people, about half of them members of the security forces and the remainder Afghan civilians, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for Nangarhar province.

Although deadly rioting over the Koran-burning incident ended a week ago, repercussions are still being felt. The NATO force and Western embassies pulled advisors out of Afghan government ministries, and most are still staying away.

A preliminary U.S. military investigation said at least five U.S. soldiers would likely face disciplinary measures over the incident. But a group of senior Afghan clerics, together with many lawmakers, have demanded a public trial and harsh punishment for those involved.

Findings of a U.S.-Afghan investigation into the incident are still pending, and some differences have emerged in American and Afghan accounts of how and why the burning of the Islamic texts came about.

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-- Laura King

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