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8 dead, 16 injured in Afghan mosque blast

A bomb planted in a car exploded outside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan during a memorial service for a mujahedeen commander.
None | By Associated Press, Kabul
PUBLISHED ON JUL 31, 2006 02:28 PM IST

A bomb planted in a car exploded on Monday outside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least eight people and wounding 16, during a memorial service for a mujahedeen commander, officials said.

The blast went off in the yard of a mosque in the Farmay Adha area, 20 kms south of the city of Jalalabad, as people gathered to mark the death of Younis Khalis, a former mujahedeen commander, who died July 19.

Gen Abdul Basir Solangi, provincial police chief, said the bomb was planted in a car used by police to drive to the mosque to attend the service, and five policemen inside the vehicle were killed.

Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Nangahar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital, was inside the mosque at the time of the blast, but was not hurt, Solangi said.

Ajmal Pardis, chief of the main hospital in Jalalabad, said eight bodies had been brought to there including three children and some bodyguards of the governor.

It wasn't immediately clear if the bodyguards were the same as the five dead policemen. Pardis said 16 people were being treated for injuries, including four children.

Witnesses at the scene of the blast said a vehicle belonging to bodyguards of the provincial governor was damaged by the bombing.

Khalis was a commander during the resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, leading a faction of Hezb-i-Islami, or Party of Islam, that included many Arab fighters.

He was believed to have links to Osama bin Laden. Khalis, regarded as an Islamic hardliner, lived in retirement in eastern Nangahar province during the Taliban regime.

But after the regime's ouster in late 2001 was critical the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Although reportedly in poor health, in October 2003, Khalis declared a jihad, or holy war, against America and then went into hiding, said a relative of the former mujahedeen leader from the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar.

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