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Blast Kills 6, Spares Afghan Ministers at Funeral

September 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a further assault on the Afghan government, a suicide bomber killed six people Monday at the funeral of a provincial governor who had been assassinated by the Taliban. Four senior Cabinet ministers escaped injury.

The attack occurred near a tent where more than 1,000 people had congregated in the Tani district of Khowst province in eastern Afghanistan. The bombing caused carnage and chaos, and police fired in the air to control panicked mourners who feared a second blast.

The funeral was for Gov. Abdul Hakim Taniwal, who was killed Sunday with two other people in a suicide attack outside his office in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province. Taniwal was the most senior official slain in a series of Taliban assaults.

The U.S. military blamed "a Taliban extremist" for the funeral bombing, but the Taliban denied it.

The back-to-back suicide attacks were the latest in a surge of violence that has left hundreds dead across Afghanistan in recent months, the bloodiest period since the U.S.-led ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden. NATO announced Monday that a 10-day anti-Taliban offensive in the south had killed more than 500 militants -- the most intense military confrontation in nearly five years.

The unidentified bomber in Tani, Taniwal's ancestral home, slipped past about 250 village militiamen and dozens of police.

The attacker blew himself up in front of a vehicle carrying a senior police officer who may have been targeted for helping with operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, said Mohammed Ayub, the Khowst province police chief.

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