8 feared killed in suicide attack near Afghan mosque


A suicide bomber killed up to eight people as they returned from prayers at a mosque in north Afghanistan Sunday, the first day of Eidul Adha, officials said. Most of the dead were civilians and at least 20 other people were thought to have been wounded in the attack in the city of Baghlan at around 9.30am. The blast came two days after Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar urged his fighters to avoid civilian casualties in the decade-long Afghan war. “Eight people were killed including two commanders of Afghan militia forces. The rest were civilians,” said Amir Gul, a local government official.
Other officials gave varying death tolls. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui in Kabul put the death toll at seven, with 15 wounded, while Baghlan police chief Asadullah Shirzad said the figure was six including one police officer. Siddiqui said there were two suicide bombers involved, one of whom detonated himself and caused the casualties, while the other was arrested by police before he could blow himself up. The suicide bomber who blew himself up was on foot. A doctor at the main hospital in Baghlan said 20 wounded people had been admitted.
The Taliban were not contactable to comment on the attack but Siddiqui said that initial indications suggested the insurgents were behind the attack. Previously seen as relatively stable, Baghlan has seen an uptick in militant attacks in recent years. On Friday, the Taliban published a statement on their website attributed to Mullah Omar calling on fighters “to take every step to protect the lives and wealth of ordinary people”. The statement, issued to mark Eidul Adha, warned of punishments under Islamic law for fighters responsible for civilian deaths. The United Nations says the number of civilians killed in the Afghan war in the first half of this year rose 15 percent to 1,462, with insurgents behind 80 percent of the deaths.