MIHTARLAM, Afghanistan, (Reuters/AFP) - A suicide bomber killed at least 23 people, including the countrys deputy head of intelligence, in an attack near a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said. The assassination of such a high-profile member of the Western-backed Afghan security services, which have been on the frontline of an increasingly deadly Taliban insurgency, shocked the country just weeks after key elections. The attack in the relatively peaceful eastern province of Laghman was the second high-profile bombing in Afghanistan since the August 20 presidential and provincial council elections, held under a cloud of Taliban intimidation. High-ranking officials were killed and dozens of people wounded when the bomber detonated his explosives in a crowd of people outside the main mosque in Laghmans provincial capital Mihtarlam, officials said. The insurgent militia claimed responsibility for the attack and said the deputy chief of Afghanistans intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, Abdullah Laghmani, was the target. Abdullah Laghmani is among the dead, provincial governor Lutfullah Mashal told a news conference in Mihtarlam, capital of the relatively peaceful Laghman province, where a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque. The attack killed 22 people, including 18 civilians and four government officials - Laghmani, the head of the provincial council, the provincial chief executive and the provincial governments former head of religious affairs. Eighteen civilians were killed. Three were women, Mashal said. An official at the Afghan health ministry initially confirmed that at least 10 bodies had been brought into hospitals with 36 people wounded, but warned that the death toll was likely to rise with bodies taken elsewhere. There are women and children among the wounded as well, said Doctor Ahmad Farid Raaid. The provincial government spokesman said the bomber blew himself up as people were leaving the mosque following a meeting about boosting community participation in counter-narcotics and security efforts. A doctor at the main government hospital in Jalalabad in neighbouring Nangarhar province said the head of the Laghman provincial council was brought in badly wounded after the explosion but died on the operating table. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the militia carried out the attack, speaking to AFP by telephone, and claimed Abdullah was the target. The target was the deputy intelligence chief Dr Abdullah, he said.