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Suicide bomber kills seven near Afghan mosque

A Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people returning from prayers at a mosque in north Afghanistan on Sunday, the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, officials said.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2011 19:05 IST

A Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people returning from prayers at a mosque in north Afghanistan on Sunday, the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, officials said.

Most of the dead were civilians and more than a dozen other people were wounded in the morning attack in the city of Baghlan.

The blast came two days after Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar urged his fighters to avoid civilian casualties in the decade-long Afghan war.

"The final toll we have is seven people are dead including a police officer, and 18 others wounded, including three cops and two children," said Baghlan police chief Asadullah Shirzad.

Interior ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui said two suicide bombers were 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.

"The preliminary investigation shows that the suicide bombers were Taliban insurgents," the ministry said in a statement later.

Doctor Khalil Narmgoy at Baghlan city hospital said 20 wounded had been admitted.

The attack happened on the first day of the three-day Eid al-Adha holiday in Afghanistan, which is traditionally a time for people to pray and spend time with their family and friends.

The Taliban could not be contacted to comment on the attack.

Previously considered 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 Eid al-Adha, warned of punishments under Islamic Sharia 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.

Around 140,000 international troops are serving in Afghanistan, mostly from the United States, helping Afghan government forces fight a bloody, Taliban-led insurgency.

Limited withdrawals of foreign troops have already started, and all combat forces are due to leave by the end of 2014, although a sizeable training and mentoring mission is expected to remain.

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