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Taliban bomber hits Afghan provincial council building, kills 14


08:35, May 21, 2013

KABUL, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Fourteen people, including the head of provincial council, were killed and 13 others wounded Monday morning when a suicide bombing went off near the council office building in Pul-e-Khumi, the capital city of northern Afghan province of Baghlan, the latest in a string of targeted killing across the country.

"A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of entrance gate of provincial council headquarters of Baghlan province at 10:30 a.m. (local time) Monday. As a result, 14 people were killed including head of provincial council of Baghlan province Mohammad Rasoul Mohseni and 13 others were wounded," the country's Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Shortly after the bloody attack, the Taliban insurgent group claimed the responsibility for the bombing.

The ministry also said majority of the victims were civilians, adding the wounded were shifted by Afghan National Police to hospitals in the city, 160 km north of national capital Kabul.

"The Minister of Interior Affairs condemns all acts of violence as these heinous acts go against the values of Islam and the values of peaceful Afghans," it said.

"Gen. Ghulam Mujtaba Patang Minister of Interior Affairs extends his heartfelt condolences to the family of Mohammad Rasoul Mohseni and all those who lost their loved ones in this incident and prays for a quick recovery of those injured," the statement noted.

The Taliban has intensified attacks since late last month when they launched an annual rebel offensive against Afghan and about 100,000 NATO-led forces stationed in the country.

The Taliban, fighting an insurgency for more than one decade, urged civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people not to support the government and foreign troops.

Recently, Afghan officials and pro-government figures have been repeatedly targeted by the militants.

On Friday, a district police chief, Ghani Khan, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Khak-e-Safid district in the country's eastern Farah province 695 km west of Kabul.

Earlier this month, the provincial peace council chief Shah Warli and a district prosecutor were killed in two separate attacks in southern Helmand province 555 km south of Kabul.

Several village elders had also been killed in separate attacks throughout the country over the past couple of weeks.

A total of 2,754 civilians were killed and 4,805 injured in conflict-related violence in 2012, according to a UN report released here in February.

The UN report attributed 81 percent of the civilian deaths to the attacks of Taliban insurgents and other armed groups, another eight percent of the deaths were attributed to Afghan and NATO-led forces and 11 percent were unattributed.

Out of the total casualties last year, up to 698 civilians were killed and 379 were wounded in targeted killings across the central Asian country.

The civilians perceived to be supporting government, civilian government employees, religious leaders, tribal elders and persons involved in peace and reconciliation efforts came under attack in targeted killings, according to the report.

On Thursday, six U.S. personnel of the NATO-led ISAF and nine Afghan civilian died and nearly 40 civilians wounded when a suicide car bomb attack hit a two-vehicle convoy of the ISAF in a populated area in southeastern Kabul.

However, the Hizb-e-Islami, another insurgent group, claimed the responsibility for Thursday's attack.

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