Bomber kills 41 Afghans gathered near mosque
A suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a mosque packed with senior regional officials in northern Afghanistan at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha yesterday, killing 41 people.
The attack was the latest in a series of strikes in recent weeks against Afghan army, police and government officials. The choice of targets suggests insurgents are increasingly turning against Afghan authorities and security forces now that Nato is drawing down toward a final withdrawal of combat troops in 2014.
Health minister Soraya Dalil said 41 people were killed and 56 wounded in the latest attack.
At least 14 civilians were among the dead, just two days after Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar urged his fighters to “pay full attention to the prevention of civilian casualties” because he said the enemy was trying to blame them on the insurgents. Taleban attacks account for most civilian casualties, according to the UN.
The attack took place in Maymana, capital of northern Faryab province, where the Taleban and allied militant groups have been active far from their traditional strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
The bomber struck after officials, including the governor and the police chief, had assembled inside the mosque to celebrate Eid. The blast went off in the middle of a large crowd that included police and soldiers waiting for the dignitaries to re-emerge.
“The targets of the bomber were all the officials inside the mosque,” deputy governor Abdul Satar Barez said. Nobody inside the mosque was reported hurt.
“There was blood and dead bodies everywhere,” said one eyewitness. “It was a massacre.”
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