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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.