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Taliban suicide attack mars plans to mark anniversary

Five civilians were killed and nearly 80 American troops were injured when a suicide bomber struck in Afghanistan on the eve of yesterday's 9/11 anniversary.

It was a graphic reminder of the continuing global effects of the attack and the US's response to it. In Sweden, four people were arrested on suspicion of planning to bomb an international arts festival.

The Afghan attack was carried out by the Taliban on a military base in the country's eastern Wardak province.

Nato said none of the injuries suffered by 77 US troops when the bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives were life-threatening. Rockets were also fired at the US military base in Bagram.

"We are here so there is never again another 9/11 coming from Afghanistan's soil," said Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Kabul, after the attacks.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier, they had issued a statement vowing to fight until all foreign troops left.

The radical Islamic movement, which gave shelter to Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida when it ruled Afghanistan, also stressed that it had no role in the September 11 attacks, and it accused the US of using them as a pretext to invade the country.


"The Afghans have an endless stamina for a long war," the statement said. "Through a countrywide uprising, the Afghans will send the Americans to the dustbin of history like they sent other empires of the past."

The attack occurred just 70km, or about an hour's drive, from Kabul in an increasingly lawless district in a key province that controls a strategic approach to the capital.

Sayed Abad is 12km east of the Tangi Valley, where the Taliban on August 6 shot down a US military helicopter, killing 30 Americans.

Many of the dead belonged to the US Navy's SEAL Team 6 -- the same elite unit that killed Bin Laden during a May 2 cross-border raid into Pakistan, where al-Qa'ida's leadership was driven.

"Some back home have asked why we are still here," US Ambassador Ryan Crocker said at a 9/11 memorial at the embassy in Kabul.

"It's been a long fight and people are tired. The reason is simple. Al-Qa'ida is not here in Afghanistan, and that is because we are.

"We're here so that there is never again another 9/11 coming from Afghan soil. We, with our Afghan partners, figured out that the best way to ensure that is to work together and with the international community for a stable, secure, democratic Afghanistan."

The Taliban continues to launch regular attacks and orchestrate assassination campaigns against those allied with the US government.

In Sweden, police arrested four people on suspicion of planning to bomb an arts festival in the southern city of Gothenburg.

More than 400 people were evacuated from the city's Roda Sten arts centre where a party was under way early yesterday.

Meanwhile, ceremonies worldwide paid tribute to the victims of 9/11, who came from 90 countries, yesterday.

In Italy, Pope Benedict held an outdoor mass during which he urged the world to resist the "temptation toward hatred". (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent