WASHINGTON, July 17, 2006 – A suicide bomb attack in the Gardez district Afghanistan's of Paktia province killed five people and wounded up to 22 others, mostly innocent civilians, yesterday, military officials reported. An extremist armed with a suicide vest detonated his explosives as an Afghan National Army patrol approached. One Afghan soldier and four Afghan civilians were killed in the blast. Two Afghan soldiers and up to 20 more innocent Afghan civilians were wounded by the explosion and transported to a local hospital for treatment. Several vehicles and structures also were damaged.
A coalition quick reaction force and explosive ordnance disposal team responded to the scene to help investigate and secure the site. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of the brave soldier who gave his life in the defense of his nation's freedom and the families of the innocent civilians needlessly killed and wounded in this terrorist act," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman.
Witnesses say the bomber entered the street as the Afghan National Army patrol approached. Suspicious, the patrol stopped and confronted the bomber. As he rushed the lead vehicle in the patrol, Afghan soldiers fired to disable him. Before he fell, the extremist apparently detonated his bomb with total disregard to the dozens of innocent civilians in the vicinity, officials said.
"Coalition forces are currently supporting the Afghan government in investigating claims of civilian casualties," Fitzpatrick said. "Our trained and disciplined force goes to great lengths to limit the potential of accidentally harming Afghan civilians. When it does happen, we take full responsibility for our actions. Taliban extremists purposefully inflict death and destruction on their own people and show no remorse for their actions. Their blatant disregard for human life cannot be justified under any circumstance."