From Andrew Carrey and Masoud Popalzai
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — An insurgent group close to the Taliban said its attack Tuesday that killed 12 in Afghanistan was revenge for an anti-Islam film that has angered the Muslim world.
Eight of the dead were South Africans, a government spokesman confirmed, all working for international flight provider Air Charter Services, some of them as pilots.
All were ethnic Caucasians, said Clayson Monyela from South Africa’s International Relations Department, who suggested they could have been mistaken for Westerners associated with U.S. or NATO military powers.
South Africa not only has no troops in Afghanistan, but also no consulate or embassy, Monyela said.
Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, a group allied with the Taliban, said a 22-year-woman named Fatima drove a car packed with 660 pounds (300 kilograms) of explosives into a van on a road leading to the Kabul International Airport.
Eleven others were wounded in the attack, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.
Video footage of the aftermath of the attack showed a charred vehicle smoldering on the road as military officials milled about.
Deployment of a female car bomber is an anomaly in Afghanistan, where women are usually not allowed to drive, and may highlight a recent increase in the use of tactics by the Taliban to avoid detection before an attack.
Afghan insurgents who staged a daring, well-planned raid Friday on Camp Bastion, the military base where Britain’s Prince Harry is serving, were wearing U.S. Army uniforms.
It’s extremely rare for Afghan insurgents to don U.S. uniforms for their attacks. The last time CNN can identify the tactic was more than two years ago, when NATO repelled attacks on two bases in Khost province in August 2010.
Though seldom used in the past, such tactics are not new to the Taliban, says documentary filmmaker Mehran Bozorghmia, who has filmed the Taliban. “These sort of plannings were going on three years ago.”
Recent green-on-blue attacks, in which Afghan army troops open fire on allied International Security Assistance Force soldiers, represent yet another cloaking tactic in the Islamist militia’s clandestine game, Bozorghmia says. The Taliban “have sleepers inside the army.”
Such insiders could have also gained access to the U.S. Army uniforms that insurgents wore in Friday’s attack.
Tuesday’s attack is another violent response to an online film, produced in the United States, that mocks Islam’s holy prophet. Protests started last week, including an attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The United States has made it clear that it did not sanction the low-budget, amateurish 14-minute movie trailer posted on YouTube and produced privately in the United States. The clip, which has been banned by YouTube in several countries, mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
CNN’s Anna Coren, Ben Brumfield and Esprit Smith contributed to this report.
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