The Associated Press, June 9, 2011

Deadly attack on Afghan wedding party

Groom among victims as gunmen open fire on 30 family members in east Afghanistan

Gunmen stormed a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan, killing nine people including the groom as they opened fire on a crowd of about 30 family members, officials said on Thursday.

The assailants entered a field where the groom and his family members had gathered late on Wednesday night in the remote Dur Baba district and started shooting, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the provincial government spokesman. The attackers also set fire to a nearby house and a car.

Attack on wedding killed nine people including the groom
PAN, Jun. 9, 2011: The family head, Rayees Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that a group of nearly 20 militants coming from Niazyan district attacked their house on Wednesday night in the Soor Kandaw area, which borders Pakistan. The militants were loyal to Mangal Bagh, a notorious Taliban commander in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region, which is home to Taliban insurgents, he said. Their family members neither worked for the government, nor they were spies, he said. (Photo: PAN)

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Abdulzai said the cousin of the groom is the chief administrator for Dur Baba district, suggesting it may have been an insurgent strike against the family for being allied with the government. Officials are investigating.

The district administrator, Hamisha Gul, said the insurgents briefly held one of the attendees, saying he was an American spy. Gul said he was not at the gathering but had spoken to family members.

Among the dead were the groom, his father and one of his brothers, Gul said. He said about 20 men had gathered to celebrate and organise the wedding ceremony, which was scheduled for Thursday.

Civilian casualties have risen sharply because of a surge in insurgent attacks in recent years. In 2010, at least 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, a 15% rise on the previous year, according to the UN, attributed entirely to insurgent attacks.

The Taliban and other allied groups have regularly targeted both government officials and those seen as in league with the Afghan administration or Nato-led forces. Insurgents have said they do not consider these people as civilians.

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