Oct 26, 2012 / 5:51 am
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing 36 people and wounding 23, officials said.
The attack in the town of Maymana, capital of northern Faryab province, came as people were gathering at the mosque to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday.
Top provincial officials, including the governor and the police chief, were inside the building when the bomber set off his explosives outside, where a large crowd had gathered, officials said. The officials were not hurt, but most of the dead were police officers and soldiers.
"The targets of the bomber were all the officials inside the mosque," Deputy Governor Abdul Satar Barez said. He said the dead included 14 civilians.
"There was blood and dead bodies everywhere," said Khaled, a doctor who was in the mosque at the time of the blast. "It was a massacre," said Khaled, who like many Afghans uses only one name.
Video from the scene showed the motionless bodies of several soldiers and policemen lying next to their vehicles parked on a tree-lined avenue of the city, located about 500 kilometres (300 miles) northwest of Kabul. On the sidewalk, a number of civilians lay along the mosque's outer wall, some writhing and moaning in pain.
It appeared to be the deadliest suicide attack in recent months.
On Sept. 4, 25 civilians were killed and more than 35 wounded in Nanghar province, and on Sept. 1, 12 people were killed and 47 wounded in a suicide attack in Wardak province.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the attack, saying that those who carried it out were "enemies of Islam and humanity."
He said in a statement that 36 people died in the blast and 23 were injured.
The attack came as Karzai was urging Taliban insurgents "to stop killing other Afghans."
In his Eid al-Adha message to the nation on Friday morning, Karzai called on the insurgents to "stop the destruction of our mosques, hospitals and schools."
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