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At least 20 dead in Afghan blast

Acts of terror

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A suicide bombing inside a mosque in southern Afghanistan during the funeral of a top Muslim cleric has killed at least 20 people, including the police chief of the country's capital.

The blast during Wednesday's funeral in Kandahar for Mullah Abdul Fayaz also wounded 42 people, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry.

The local governor said an Arab al-Qaeda militant was responsible, The Associated Press reported.

Kandahar Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai said the suicide bomber's body had been found, and that he was part of Osama bin Laden's terror network.

"The attacker was a member of al-Qaeda. We have found documents on his body that show he was an Arab," AP quoted Sherzai as telling reporters.

Mullah Abdul, a top cleric for southern Afghanistan and supporter of the government of President Hamid Karzai, was assassinated Sunday.

Kabul's police chief was among the fatalities, AP and Reuters reported. Reuters identified him as Akram Khakreezwal.

The bomber wore a police uniform, several survivors said. He had walked into the crowded mosque by mingling with Khakreezwal's security men as they entered with their boss, Reuters quoted police as saying.

It was the first suicide attack on a mosque in Afghanistan, a government spokesman told Reuters.

"I saw bodies scattered, blood all over the place. Dead policemen were also lying there," a nearby shop owner told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The U.S. military issued a statement Wednesday condemning the attack.

"The coalition abhors this atrocious act of violence upon innocent civilians and a mosque," said public affairs officer U.S. Army Col. Jim Yonts.

"Tragic events such as this only solidify our resolve that we must eradicate terrorism now. The future of Afghanistan depends on it."

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