The attack came as mourners were leaving at the end of the funeral of a village elder in the town of Talaqan in northern Takhar province, killing 19 and wounding 40. Among the dead was Abdul Mutaleb Baik, a member of the Afghan parliament.
Suicide attacks are rare in Takhar province, which is located 155 miles north-east of Kabul and is considered one the nation’s calmer regions.
Sayed Ikramuddin Masomi, a member of parliament, said: “The suicide attacker killed … innocent people, and unfortunately Abdul Mutaleb Baik was among them.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but over the past year, the Taleban has repeatedly struck at officials and other prominent figures in an apparent effort to paralyse the government.
President Hamid Karzai immediately condemned the attack in Takhar province, describing it as “an inhuman action by the enemies of Afghanistan.”
US Marine General John Allen, the coalition’s top commander in Afghanistan, said: “These attackers are cowards, callously targeting and killing families and friends who had gathered to mourn a loved one.”
The interior ministry said security forces killed 30 suspected insurgents in a series of clashes around the country yesterday.
A ministry statement said army, police and Nato troops launched 11 operations in the past 24 hours across the country. It said seven insurgents were arrested.