Six troops were wounded, including three U.S. soldiers, and an Afghan interpreter was killed Wednesday in a suicide attack in Afghanistan that the Taliban claims was in retaliation for a religiously insensitive leaflet drop by the U.S. this week.
The attack occurred outside an entry control point at Bagram Airfield near the capital Kabul at 5:38 p.m. local time, according to an initial release from U.S. Forces Afghanistan, which said there had been a "small number of casualties."
The U.S. did not describe the extent of the wounds sustained by the American troops, and as a matter of policy, does not release the names of U.S. troops wounded in action.
The attack came one day after a U.S. general issued an unusual public policy over leaflets dropped in the area that contained an image "highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam."
"I sincerely apologize. We have the deepest respect for Islam and our Muslim partners worldwide," said Maj. Gen. James Linder. "There is no excuse for this mistake. I am reviewing our procedures to determine the cause of this incident and to hold the responsible party accountable. Furthermore, I will make appropriate changes so this never happens again."
The Taliban has claimed the Wednesday attack by a suicide bomber was in direct response to the offensive image on the leaflet, but the U.S. said it cannot confirm that is the case.
"While the Taliban claim this is in retaliation for the leaflet, they used a very similar tactic about a month or so ago when a suicide bomber attacked a NATO patrol," said Navy Capt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman U.S. Forces Afghanistan. "It would be speculation on my part to confirm a link, especially based only on a Taliban claim."
The leaflet, which circulated widely on social media, contained an image of a large lion chasing a small white dog with a Taliban flag on its side, and the text urged Afghans to "take back their freedom from the terrorist dogs."
The text on the dog says "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." The saying is called the "Shahada."
"American invaders are enemies of religion and our word," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on Twitter. "You may well understand that our mujahedeen are defending Islam and our word."
The leaflets were dropped in Parwan province, which includes Bagram.