KABUL, Afghanistan (CBS/AP) - A suicide car bomber struck early Monday at the gates of Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, killing nine people in an attack insurgents said was revenge for U.S. troops burning Korans.
CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports the blast wounded four U.S. troops at the airport, which also serves as a coalition base, and is just the latest attack targeting Americans after the Koran burning was reported.
The explosion comes after six days of deadly protests in Afghanistan over the disposal of Korans and other Islamic texts in a burn pit last week at a U.S. military base north of the capital.
American officials have called the incident a mistake and issued a series of apologies. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged calm, saying that Afghans should not let the insurgents capitalize on their indignation to spark violence.
Monday's attack appeared to be a sign that the Taliban are seizing the opportunity to do just that.
The bomber drove up to the gates of the airport — which serves both civilian and international military aircraft — shortly after dawn and detonated his explosives in a "very strong" blast, said Nangarhar provincial police spokesman Hazrad Mohammad.
Among the dead were six civilians, two airport guards and one soldier, Mohammad said. Another six people were wounded, he said.
An AP photographer saw at least four destroyed cars at the gates of the airport.
NATO forces spokesman Capt. Justin Brockhoff said that no international forces were killed in the early morning attack and that the installation was not breached by the blast.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide car bomber had driven up to the airport gate and detonated his explosives as international forces were changing from night to morning guard duty.
A local Taliban subcommander, who gave his name as Abu Sajad, told CBS News' Sami Yousafzai in a telephone call Monday morning that an "ordinary Afghan" approached the militant group "willing to take revenge, and within 24 hours he took revenge for the Koran."
According to Sajad, the suicide bomber "was not a student of a madrasa (Islamic religious school) or a Talib 24 hours ago."
The militant subcommander, whose claims could not be independently verified, told CBS News that "a number of Afghans working inside very sensitive Afghan and U.S. offices (have been) approaching the Taliban" since the Koran burning was revealed at Bagram air base.