Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban attack in Kunduz kills 29

Aftermath of Saturday's attack Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Taliban attacks have intensified across Afghanistan this year

At least 29 members of a pro-government militia have been killed in an attack in northern Afghanistan, officials say.

Four commanders are said to be among those killed on Saturday when a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a gathering in the province of Kunduz.

The interior ministry described them as civilians but local officials and the Taliban said they were militiamen.

There has been a sharp increase in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan - more than 50 people died on Friday alone.

The UN said the attacks were likely to be the product of a Taliban power struggle following the death of its leader Mullah Omar about two weeks ago.

Such infighting threatens to kill off a tentative peace process that was suspended last week.

The Afghan interior ministry condemned Saturday's attack in Khanabad district as a "heinous act".

It said those killed - and some 15 wounded - were civilians.

However, local officials including Abdul Wadood Wahidi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz, said the dead were pro-government militiamen.

In June, the Afghan government launched a counter-offensive against the Taliban, after they took control of a key district.

Chardara district is just a few kilometres from the provincial centre of Kunduz, and a major road to the capital Kabul runs through it.

Militant violence has increased across the country since the departure of most US and Nato forces last year.

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