KABUL (AFP) - A suicide bomber attacked a funeral in northeastern Afghanistan Sunday, killing at least 19 people including an MP and wounding dozens of others, officials said.
The attacker, who was wearing a suicide vest, blew himself up among a crowd of mourners gathered for the funeral of a government official in Taluqan city, the capital of Takhar province. “We have 19 dead including an MP, Abdulmutalib Baig, and more than 40 wounded, mostly civilians,” said Takhar provincial governor Abdul Jabar Taqwa. “I was also invited to this ceremony but I didn’t go. The target was either me or the MP.” Baig was a former Mujahedeen commander and the former police chief of Kunduz province. He was working with opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah in the newly established National Coalition of Afghanistan. “This ruthless act of terror to target innocent people who had gathered for a religious ceremony yet again demonstrates the vile and vicious nature of the enemy who do not want to see the Muslim people of Afghanistan to perform even their Islamic rituals,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said. Both the provincial police chief General Khair Mohammad Temor and the interior ministry confirmed the death toll.
Temor said there were no women among the dead and more than 50 were wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the Taliban, who are leading an insurgency against Afghan government forces and US-led international troops, were not reachable for comment.
“This reprehensible attack... illustrates that the Taliban and other insurgents are waging a murderous campaign against innocent Afghan civilians and exposes as false calls by (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar during the Eid al-Adha... on their followers not to kill civilians,” the US embassy said in a statement.
Elsewhere, in eastern Afghanistan, an ISAF service member died after an insurgent attack on Christmas day. The nationality was not disclosed in line with policy.
The death came after an Afghan soldier was killed in a separate gunfight with US troops after he opened fire during an argument on Christmas eve, officials said.
US troops were also injured in the incident on Saturday after the Afghan soldier began shooting and coalition troops returned fire in southwestern Farah province, Afghan army and police officials said.
“Last night in Bala Boluk an Afghan army soldier opened fire on foreign forces,” said Najibullah Najibi, spokesman for the Afghan army in western Afghanistan.
“Four foreign forces have been wounded in this incident and the Afghan soldier has been killed.”
A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said there were no coalition fatalities but would not comment on ISAF casualties in line with policy.