DAWN, June 2, 2005

27 die in Afghanistan mosque bombing

KANDAHAR (Afghanistan), June 1: A suicide attack on the funeral of a key anti-Taliban cleric on Wednesday killed at least 27 people, including one of Afghanistan’s top policemen and wounded 42 in the southern city of Kandahar. The blast ripped through a mosque in the centre of the city, the birthplace of the Taliban regime that was ousted by US-led forces three and a half years ago, as hundreds of mourners gathered inside.

The attack was the worst in Afghanistan this year and one of the most serious since the fall of the Taliban, which gave shelter and support to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal told AFP that the police chief of Kabul, General Akram Khakraizwall, was among the dead.

“It was a suicide attack by the enemies of Afghanistan and Islam. The investigation into the case has started,” added Mashal. The bombing came as prayers were given for Maulvi Abdullah Fayyaz, a close supporter of US-backed President Hamid Karzai. Fayyaz was gunned down on May 29 after recently speaking out against fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“Twenty-seven people were killed and 42 were injured and hospitalised,” the provincial governor, Gul Agha Shirzai, told reporters in Kandahar. The bomber had been identified as an Arab, based on documents including an identity card found on the remains of his body, he added. Arabs make up the bulk of the Al-Qaeda militants believed to remain in Afghanistan.—AFP

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