KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The latest in a series of deadly strikes against Afghanistan's army, police and government officials has left 41 people dead.
A suicide bomber struck outside a mosque packed with senior regional officials today in northern Afghanistan. Many of the dead were soldiers and police. The officials escaped without injury.
The choice of targets indicates that insurgents are increasingly turning against Afghan authorities and security forces, now that NATO is moving toward a final withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.
At least 14 civilians were among the dead. The attack came just two days after the leader of the Taliban urged his fighters to try to prevent civilian casualties -- saying the enemy was trying to blame those deaths on insurgents.
There's been no claim of responsibility for today's bombing. It happened at around the same time that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was taping a televised message to the nation to mark the start of a four-day Muslim holiday.
In the address he urged Taliban insurgents to "stop killing other Afghans" and stop destroying mosques, hospitals and schools.
173-a-05-(German Brigadier General Gunter Katz (GOON'-tur kahtz), chief coalition military spokesman in Afghanistan, in AP interview)-"attack took place"-German Brigadier General Gunter Katz, the coalition military's top spokesman in Afghanistan, says the bomber struck after opening prayers marking a Muslim holiday. (26 Oct 2012)
<<CUT *173 (10/26/12)>> 00:05 "attack took place"
174-a-06-(German Brigadier General Gunter Katz (GOON'-tur kahtz), chief coalition military spokesman in Afghanistan, in AP interview)-"targeting innocent civilians"-German Brigadier General Gunter Katz, the coalition military's top spokesman in Afghanistan, says this attack shows the insurgency is growing increasingly desperate. (26 Oct 2012)
<<CUT *174 (10/26/12)>> 00:06 "targeting innocent civilians"
GRAPHICSBANK: Hamid Karzai headshot, as Afghanistan President, delivers a speech during the first day of Eid Al Adha celebrations at the palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, graphic element on gray (26 Oct 2012)
APPHOTO XMS118: Bodies of suicide attack victims are covered in white cloth in the courtyard of a hospital in Maymana, Faryab province, northwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing dozens of people and wounding scores, government and hospital officials said. (AP Photo/Qawtbuddin Khan) (14 Dec 2010)
<<APPHOTO XMS118 (12/14/10)>>