Saturday, February 17, 2018

Afghan suicide bomber kills dozens of worshipers

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber struck in northern Afghanistan on Friday morning, killing at least 45 people as worshipers were emerging from a mosque to celebrate the first day of Eid al-Adha, the most important Muslim holiday, officials said.

The attack, in Maymana, the capital of Faryab province, also wounded 60 people.

Among the dead were 25 members of the Afghan National Security Forces, including the Afghan National Civil Order Police commander for Faryab, the head of the police quick-reaction force and the chiefs of police for two districts of Maymana, according to Naqibullah Faiq, a member of parliament from Faryab.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack. "Those who are taking away the happiness of Muslims during the Eid al-Adha days are the enemies of Islam, and you cannot call them human or Muslim," he said in a statement.

The province has become increasingly violent over the past year, and it now rivals Kunduz for the distinction of being the most troubled province in northern Afghanistan, Western diplomats say.

Provincial officials who have been fighting the Taliban in Faryab were especially upset, because there had been hopes that recent battles with the insurgents had sapped their strength. However, it appeared that Friday's attack was in revenge for Taliban losses in the week.

No group took responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses said the bomber approached the northern gate of the mosque courtyard. He was wearing the uniform of an Afghan National Army soldier, several people said.

"The suicide bomber was young. He appeared to be a 15-year-old boy," said Syed Abdul Sarwar, a witness.

In a separate episode in Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban buried a bomb near the grave of a young man they had killed two weeks before because he worked for a member of the Afghan parliament, said Gen. Zaman Mamozai, an Interior Ministry official who is a distant relative of the victim. When two of the young man's nephews went to visit his grave for Eid al-Adha, the bomb detonated, killing one boy and wounding the other, Mamozai said.

Two Americans killed: The Taliban claimed responsibility Friday for killing two American service members in southern Uruzgan province, in what may have been an insider attack. The Taliban said a member of the Afghan security forces shot the two men Thursday and escaped to join the insurgents.

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