Suicide bomber attacks Afghan wedding, kills 40 civilians (Second Lead)

June 10th, 2010 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron Kandahar (Afghanistan), June 10 (DPA) A suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a wedding party in the southern province of Kandahar, killing 40 people and injuring 87 others, officials said Thursday.
At least 86 people were injured Wednesday night when a suicide bomber targeted the celebration in the Arghandab district, Kandahar provincial governor Toryalai Wesa told a press conference.

The attack, which took place in Nagan village, some 15 km north of Kandahar city, sparked condemnation by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and members of the international community.

“Weddings are all over the world not only good occasions but occasions of sanctity that deserve protection and respect,” Karzai said at a joint press conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“For suicide bombers to go and kill people (at a wedding) is not only against Islam, it is an act against the whole of humanity,” Karzai said.

Cameron, who was in Afghanistan on a surprise visit, also deplored the attack.

“I condemn this outrageous act,” top UN envoy to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, said in a statement issued in Kabul. “To specifically target people who were gathering at a moment of happiness to celebrate a wedding shows a total disregard for civilian life.”

The attack targeted up to 1,000 participants, including pro-government militiamen, during the wedding party of Mohammad Sharif’s son, according to Wesa. Sharif is a middle-ranking official in Kandahar’s provincial government.

Both Wesa and the interior ministry blamed “enemies of Afghanistan”, a term often used by officials to describe Taliban fighters, while the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement that militants were responsible.

“This ruthless violence brought to the Afghan people at what should have been a time for celebration demonstrates the Taliban’s sickening and indiscriminate tactics to try to intimidate the citizens of Afghanistan,” ISAF deputy commander General Nick Parker said.

“However, it only proves they have no regard for human life,” he said in a statement.

However, Qari Yousif Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said Taliban fighters were not involved in the attack. He claimed in a statement posted on the rebels’ website that the US military hit the house with an airstrike.

Ahmadi said foreign forces were trying to defame the Taliban by conducing “mysterious explosions that kill civilians”.

Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban and its leaders’ headquarters until late 2001, is set to be the scene of a major operation by NATO-led troops this summer.

Thousands of extra US troops are expected to join other NATO forces in the region in the coming months. The military escalation is aimed at driving the militants out of Kandahar and stemming the rise of the militants in the volatile region.

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