20 killed as suicide bomber targets funeral in Afghanistan (Lead)

September 4th, 2012 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Jalalabad (Afghanistan), Sep 4 (IANS) At least 20 people were killed and more than 50 others injured Tuesday afternoon when a suicide bomber hit a funeral procession in eastern Afghanistan’ s Nangarhar province, an official said.

“The suicide blast occurred at around 3 p.m. local time Tuesday in Dur Baba district,” a spokesman for provincial government, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, told Xinhua.

He said the district administration chief’s son was also killed in the attack and the district chief and his brother were among the injured.

The injured were shifted by police to hospitals in the provincial capital.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the bombings bear the hallmark of the Taliban insurgent group.

The ceremony was attended by several government officials, a local resident told Xinhua, adding: “The death toll could rise, as many injured remain in critical conditions.”

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group launched an annual spring offensive dubbed “Al-Farooq” from May 3 against security forces.

The Taliban has warned the civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centres regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people against supporting government and foreign troops.

A total of 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and 1,954 injured in conflicts in the first six months of 2012 in the insurgency-hit country, a 15 percent drop in overall civilian casualties compared with the same period in 2011, according to a UN report released in Kabul on Aug 8.

The UN report attributed 80 percent of the civilian deaths to the attacks of Taliban insurgents and other armed groups opposing the Afghan government, another 10 percent of the deaths were attributed to Afghan and NATO-led forces and 10 percent were unattributed in the first six months this year.

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