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Nearly 80 NATO troops wounded in attack in Afghanistan

By Ernesto Londoño,

KABUL — Two Afghan civilians were killed and nearly 80 NATO soldiers were wounded after a truck packed with explosives hidden under firewood rammed into the entrance of a military base in eastern Afghanistan, military officials said Sunday.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack. In a statement on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the militant group said Afghans became the biggest victims of response to the attacks.

“It will remain a permanent stigma on the face of Western democracy that America and her allies martyred tens of thousands of Muslims under the pretext of this ambiguous and murky event,” the statement said.

The bombing in Wardak Province happened at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, amid heightened alert in Afghanistan over the possibility that extremists would use the anniversary to launch spectacular attacks.

NATO said in a statement Sunday that the explosion damaged the perimeter wall ringing the base and a maintenance facility, but protective barriers around the site “absorbed most of the explosion.” NATO officials said 25 Afghans and 77 foreign soldiers had been treated for “non-life threatening injuries.” The base that came under attack is controlled by U.S. troops.

The attack was carried out in the same province where 30 NATO troops were killed last month when the Chinook transport helicopter they were traveling in was shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul held a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks early Sunday.

“What happened here in Afghanistan and in the United States 10 years ago has joined our two nations forever in a common cause,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker told attendees, according to a summary of his remarks provided by the embassy. “Afghan soil must never again be used by elements that would use terror to attack the people of America, Afghanistan and the international community.”

Special correspondent Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.

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