Muslim holiday in Afghanistan opens with a bombing

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REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- The most important holiday of the Muslim calendar got off to a violent start in Afghanistan on Sunday when suspected insurgents staged a bombing outside a mosque in the north, killing at least seven worshippers and injuring more than a dozen other people, Afghan officials said.

The attack in Baghlan province, which came on the first day of the three-day Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, was condemned by Afghan officials as un-Islamic. Gen. John Allen, the U.S. Marine who commands all Western forces in the country, called the bombing “despicable.”

Only two days earlier, the Taliban movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had issued an Eid message in which he called on his fighters to make a concerted effort to avoid causing civilian casualties. About three-quarters of noncombatant deaths and injuries are attributed by independent observers to the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Sunday’s attack.


Two bombers took part in the Baghlan attack, according to Afghan police, but one was shot dead before he could detonate his explosives. The police described all the dead as civilians, but said at least two were thought to be involved in local militias created in recent months with Western backing.

Also Sunday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force reported the death of a service member, whose nationality was not disclosed, in western Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops are deployed in the country’s south and east.

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-- Laura King

Photo: Relatives gather around the body of a police commander who was killed Sunday in a suicide bomb attack at a mosque during Eid al-Adha prayers in Baghlan, Afghanistan. Credit: Naqeeb Ahmed / European Pressphoto Agency

 
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