|Takhar has seen several targeted attacks against prominent officials in the past year [AFP]|
At least 20 people, including a member of parliament, were killed in a suicide attack on a funeral procession in northeast Afghanistan.
Fifty others were injured in Sunday’s attack in the city of Taloqan in Takhar province, the deputy police chief of the province said.
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“In a funeral ceremony this afternoon a suicide attacker targeted the gathering killing 15 people including Abdul Mutaleb Baig, a member of parliament from Takhar,” said Abdul Jabar Taqwa, governor of Takhar province.
General Khair Mohammad Temor, Takhar’s police chief, confirmed the attack in the provincial capital.
“A suicide attacker wearing a suicide vest attacked a funeral procession in Taloqan city in Takhar,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said the death toll might rise as the condition of some of the injured was serious.
“We understand that the target of the attack was a member of the parliament, Abdul Mutaleb Baig, who used to be a member of the northern alliance, a faction that fought against the Taliban a decade ago.”
Sayed Ikramuddin Masomi, another parliamentarian from Takhar province, confirmed that Baig had died.
“The suicide attacker killed 10 innocent people and unfortunately Abdul Mutaleb Baig was among them,” he said in a telephone interview.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But over the past year, the Taliban have repeatedly struck at prominent government figures.
General Daud Daud, the police chief of northern Afghanistan, and Mohammad Omar, the governor of Kunduz, were also killed in Takhar during the past year.
Security in the north, which remained relatively secure in the early years of the war, has deteriorated recently as Afghan and coalition forces have focused their campaign in the south, and the east along the border with Pakistan.
Seperately, the interior ministry said Sunday that security forces killed 30 suspected fighters in a series of clashes around the country.
A ministry statement said army, police and NATO troops launched a total of 11 operations in the past 24 hours across the country. It said seven opposition fighters were arrested.