KABUL, Afghanistan – Islamic militants sought Tuesday to capitalize on anger over an anti-Islam video that was produced in the United States, saying a suicide bombing that killed 12 people in Afghanistan was revenge for the film and calling for attacks on U.S. diplomats and facilities in North Africa.
The attempt by extremists across the region to harness Muslim fury over a film that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad posed new concern for the United States, whose embassies and consulates have been targeted, and in some cases breached, during riots and protests over the past week.
At the same time, Western leaders welcomed statements by Middle East governments that condemned the violence against diplomatic facilities on their soil, even as they expressed anger over the video.
At least 28 people have died in violence linked to the film in seven countries, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed in a Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The toll also includes 12 protesters killed in riots over the film last week.
The crisis has become a major foreign policy challenge for Washington in the final weeks of a presidential election campaign. The uproar over the video, “Innocence of Muslims,” which was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen and posted on YouTube, reflects seemingly intractable tension between Western principles of free speech and Islamic beliefs that brook no insult directed at the prophet.
Tuesday’s attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, was carried out by a suicide bomber who rammed a car packed with explosives into a minibus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport. At least 12 people died, including eight South Africans, three Afghans and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan. A spokesman for the Afghan militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack and said it was carried out by a 22-year-old woman.