News / Asia

8 South Africans Killed in Afghanistan

Brothers of an Afghan mini-bus driver who was killed in a suicide bombing cry at the scene, Sept. 18, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Brothers of an Afghan mini-bus driver who was killed in a suicide bombing cry at the scene, Sept. 18, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Anita Powell
Eight South Africans were among those killed Tuesday in a suicide blast in Afghanistan's capital.   An Afghan insurgent group says the attack on a mini-bus carrying foreigners was in response to an anti-Islam on-line video that has sparked worldwide protests.  But South African officials and a Muslim analyst say the attacks were probably not aimed at South Africans.

The bomb ripped through the van near Kabul’s airport on Tuesday morning, killing at least 12 people including the eight South Africans.

The Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it sent a female bomber in response to the anti-Islam video that has set off protests all over the world, including in Afghanistan.

The protests are directed against the American-made film called “Innocence of Muslims” that mocks Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.  

Nelson Kgwete, is a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation:

“We understand from our mission in Islamabad that the eight South Africans were employed by a private aviation company," said Kgwete. "At the moment the department has the complete list of all the names of the deceased. We are working on establishing contact with the next of kin and also ensuring that we ensure the necessary consular assistance to the families. As government we would like to express our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased. At the moment it’s difficult to say what the motive may have been or whether or not this was a targeted attack, we do not have that indication at the moment.”

South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said the attack was likely a result of “mistaken identity.” He did not say who the attackers may have meant to strike, but previous protests have targeted Americans.

Last week, protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was among four Americans killed in the attack in Benghazi.

Monyela said South Africa’s government did not anticipate unrest at home over the film. The country is no stranger to violent protests - the mineral-rich nation is in the midst of more than a month of illegal strikes in the mining sector that have resulted in dozens of deaths.

Naeem Jeenah, executive director of the Johannesburg-based Afro-Middle East Center, says South Africa’s 1.5 million Muslims are unlikely to take up the torch as Muslims have in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

“I don’t think that in some of these countries like in South Africa, that video has been tied in as closely to a broader anti-American sentiment as it is is in North Africa. I’m not saying that sentiment doesn’t exist, because there certainly is a strong anti-American sentiment in South Africa, not only among Muslims. But there’s more likelihood that you’d get an angry anti-American protest taking place after a drone attack than this video," said Jeenah.

Jeenah says Muslim clerics in South Africa have also urged restraint and calm -- though they have condemned the video. He also says the video has not been marketed as aggressively in nations with substantial Muslim populations like Kenya, South Africa, or Nigeria.

Jeenah says he has not made the effort to see the film, though it is available in South Africa and, he says, it is not forbidden for Muslims to watch films that criticize Islam.

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have reportedly blocked access to YouTube because of the video.

“I haven’t watched it because I really am busy and don’t have the time to look at stupid things," said Jeenah.

  • Afghan security personnel stand near a mangled vehicle as they investigate a suicide bomb attack, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 18, 2012.
  • Afghan security personnel investigate at the site of a suicide attack, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 18, 2012.
  • A French soldier investigates the scene of a suicide bombing that targeted a mini-bus carrying foreigners, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 18, 2012.
  • French soldiers arrive at the scene of a suicide bombing, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 18, 2012.
  • Nato soldiers arrive at the site of a suicide bomb attack, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 18, 2012.
Jeenah also says the protests are happening in North Africa partly as a result of the Arab Spring movements in which the people managed to sweep out longtime leaders last year.

“One of the reasons why it has taken off as it has in North Africa is certainly as a result of the kind of democratization wave that has taken place there. If this whole video story had taken place two years ago, you wouldn’t have had these types of protests in Libya, Tunisia or Egypt. Certainly in Libya, it would only have happened if Gadhafi allowed it to or if Gadhafi organized it. In Egypt, it would be crushed, in Tunisia it wouldn’t have happened," he said.

The U.S. State Department has ordered all non-essential American personnel and family members to leave Tunisia after protesters there entered the U.S. Embassy and destroyed cars and trashed buildings. The State Department issued a similar warning in Sudan over concerns that there are terrorist groups working in the nation. The State Department has also cautioned U.S. citizens against traveling to either nation.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs