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Upsurge in Afghan suicide attacks
The tribal people of Afghanistan have a proud warrior tradition, and historically suicide attacks have never been a part of it.
Warriors known as ghazis might die fighting those they considered infidels, but would not set out to kill themselves.
The attack at Bagram was the fourth in the past week. Suicide attacks have been most commonly used by Arab militants who oppose any Western involvement in Muslim countries.
A Taleban spokesman claimed the Bagram attack was carried out by an Afghan but reports suggest that many, if not most, suicide attackers in Afghanistan are foreign militants.
U.S. officials disputed the assertion that Cheney was the target, noting that his overnight stay at the sprawling Bagram air base had been unplanned and that he was well away from the blast.
Regardless of the intent, the attack demonstrated that insurgents in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly bold, willing to attack a heavily fortified U.S. target in the face of unusually tight security. Additionally, the assault was carried out in a part of the country where the Taliban has relatively little support. The Islamic militia's traditional stronghold has been in the south; Bagram is in the country's central region, about an hour's drive north of Kabul.
"It's pretty striking that they're capable of planning and executing an attack on Bagram on fairly short notice and under changing circumstances. We haven't seen anything like this before," said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who until last month worked on South Asia policy at the State Department. "Psychologically, this has to be seen as a serious blow."
THE Taleban said yesterday it had sent 1,000 suicide bombers to relatively quiet northern Afghanistan, a day after a suicide blast targeted the United States vice-president, Dick Cheney.
At least 23 people, including an American soldier and a South Korean serviceman, died in Tuesday's car bombing at Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan, 40 miles north of Kabul.