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Suicide bomber targets Afghan funeral procession

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:30 PM EST, Sun December 25, 2011
About 20 people died when a suicide bomber targeted a funeral procession in northeastern Afghanistan.
About 20 people died when a suicide bomber targeted a funeral procession in northeastern Afghanistan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The attack occurred in the northeastern city of Taloqan
  • About 20 killed, a police spokesman says
  • A member of the Afghan parliament is among the dead, an official says
  • In the east of the country, a NATO service member died in an insurgent attack

(CNN) -- A suicide bomber targeted a funeral procession Sunday in the northeastern Afghan city of Taloqan, killing about 20 people, police said.

Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a police spokesman in the region, also said about 50 people were wounded.

Among the dead was a member of parliament, Abdul Mutalib Bek, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

The bomber walked among funeral-goers before detonating an explosive belt, said the spokesman, Faiz Mohammad Tawhidi.

President Hamid Karzai issued a statement saying, "This ruthless act of terror to target innocent people who had gathered for a religious ceremony yet again demonstrates the vile and vicious nature of the enemy," who does not want "the Muslim people of Afghanistan to perform even their Islamic rituals."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a statement saying, "This reprehensible attack on a funeral further illustrates that the Taliban and other insurgents are waging a murderous campaign against innocent Afghan civilians, including women and children, and exposes as false calls by Mullah Omar during the Eid al-Adha and other insurgent leaders on their followers not to kill civilians."

Omar is the leader of the Taliban.

The U.S. Embassy said the U.S. government remains "undeterred in standing with the Afghan people against the scourge of terrorism in our mutual aim of promoting peace and prosperity for Afghanistan."

Gen. John R. Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), deplored the "barbaric attack."

"These attackers are cowards, callously targeting and killing families and friends who had gathered to mourn a loved one. Those responsible for this shameful act must only be interested in destruction, alienating themselves from the Afghan people. They are neither Afghan nor are they true Muslims.," he said.

Takhar province has been the scene of a number of attacks in recent months targeting Afghan and NATO forces.

In May, a suicide bombing killed prominent Afghan Gen. Daud Daud, who commanded the Northern Alliance in its last major battle against the Taliban following the September 11, 2001, attacks.

German Gen. Markus Kneip, a top NATO commander, was wounded in that attack.

ISAF also reported the death of a service member on Sunday in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan.

CNN's Masoud Popalzai contributed to this report.

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