Different route proved fatal

2012-09-19 00:00

OF the eight South Africans killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday, only pilots Brandon Booth (47) and Fraser Carey (32) had been named by last night.

All eight worked for Johannesburg company ACS/Balmoral, which provided services to foreign missions in Afghanistan.

Carey previously worked as a “bush pilot” in Maun, Botswana. He leaves a fiancée, Lisa Sella.

In addition to these two, the South African dead included another pilot, four flight engineers and a woman who worked in ACS/Balmoral’s operations room at Kabul airport.

The suicide bomber, described by some witnesses as a woman, was also killed, as well as the South Africans’ Afghan driver, a ground crew member from Kyrgyzstan and a bystander.

Hezb-i-Islam, an Afghan insurgent group with ties to the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was vengeance for an extremist American-made video that denigrates Islam.

Yesterday, foreigners in the country stayed indoors after rumours that the trailer for the film would be shown on Afghan television.

A South African in Kabul told sister paper Beeld that the murdered group lived in an inner city area called Qalai Fatullah. Every morning a minibus picked them up to take them to the airport.

There are two routes to the airport. Yesterday the minibus took the city bypass route, which is used by relatively few foreigners. The attack took place about two kilometres from the airport, when the attacker crashed a white car loaded with explosives into the bus.

An escort vehicle driving behind the minibus had no time to prevent the attack.

“The attack at about 6.45 am echoed across the city. Shortly afterwards we heard it was our people,” said the South African.

It was the second suicide attack in Kabul in 10 days, but the deadliest attack against South Africans since they first started working in Afghanistan 10 years ago.

“Our group of South Africans are very sad today. It is a black day, especially because the guys who were killed worked on aid missions.”

ACS/Balmoral fulfills air transport contracts for USAid and the American embassy.

The company said in a statement yesterday it was a tragic event and it was doing everything possible to support the families of the eight.

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