Suicide blast at a wedding kills lawmaker in Afghanistan

 

McClatchy Newspapers

A suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest Saturday at a wedding in the northern Samangan province killing at least 22 people including the bride’s father, a prominent Afghan parliamentarian, officials said.

Ahmad Khan Samangani fought against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and represented his province in the lower house of the Afghan Parliament. Officials said he was killed when the suicide bomber approached to greet him.

Samangani was celebrating his daughter’s wedding in the city of Aibak, the provincial capital. He was welcoming the guests at the gate of the wedding hall around 8 a.m., said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, the spokesman for the northern police force.

Among those killed was the provincial chief of intelligence who was attending the reception, Ahmadzai said.

At least 42 people were also wounded in the attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. “Afghans don’t search guests at a wedding reception,” Ahmadzai said. “We had security measures taken but no one searched the suicide bomber.”

Mansour Sawiz, the director of Samangan’s provincial hospital, told McClatchy that 15 of the injured were in critical condition and his hospital referred them for better treatment to the local base where coalition forces are stationed and to Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and assigned a delegation to probe the incident.

Samangani, the parliamentarian, was reelected in the disputed 2010 parliamentary elections. He was the father of ten children, four daughters and six sons. The daughter whose marriage was taking place was 18.

“She was wearing a green costume and the couple were just to do nekah,” the Arabic word for marriage, said Aziza Musleh, a female senator in the Afghan national assembly who was present at Samangani’s house.

“The family of Ahmad Khan is deeply grieved now. The happiness was replaced by the bloodshed.”

The attack followed a Friday that killed the director of women’s affairs in eastern Laghman province and her husband. At least 10 civilians also were injured in the explosion.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led NATO coalition said in a statement on Saturday that one of its soldiers had died in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan but didn’t provide details.

Safi is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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