A FEMALE suicide bomber killed nine foreign airport workers, including eight South Africans, in a car bomb attack in Afghanistan yesterday claimed to be in revenge for the American-made anti-Islam film.
The woman rammed a car packed with explosives into a minibus ferrying the workers to Kabul airport. There were no survivors.
The force of the blast in front of a filling station blew the wreckage of the minibus 40 yards. At least three Afghans were also killed and up to a dozen wounded.
An insurgent faction led by the former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar claimed responsibility for the blast on the capital's main road.
A statement said it had been carried out in reprisal for the film 'The Innocence of Muslims, which ridicules the Prophet Mohammed and has sparked outrage across the Muslim world since a trailer emerged on YouTube.
The South African victims are believed to have been employed by an aviation company based at Rand Airport in Johannesburg.
The attack came on the same day that a cutback on joint operations undertaken by international and Afghan forces was announced.
The decision raises crucial questions about the key plank of the exit strategy from the 11-year war which has proved costly in lives and money.
The move is also a significant propaganda coup for the insurgents, coming just after their assault on Camp Bastion which resulted in the destruction of warplanes worth $200m (€170m). For the British and coalition troops, the announcement in Washington will only highlight the mistrust which has been the inevitable consequence of 51 deaths inflicted by their supposed Afghan brothers-in-arms.
What added to the sense of uncertainty and drift was the way the news of the order filtered out, with allies in the coalition seemingly kept in the dark by the US and NATO high command. Britain's Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, clearly had not been told about it when he appeared before the Commons on Monday after the latest killings of two British soldiers by an Afghan in uniform.
Neither, perhaps more importantly, had the Afghans. Afzal Amaan, the head of operations at the defence department, said yesterday: "We haven't heard officially from the foreign forces about this. It will have a negative impact on our operations. Right now, foreign forces help us in air support, carrying our personnel, wounded and dead out of the battlefields, in logistics and training."