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The World

November 6, 2011

Suicide bombers kill 7 in north Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two suicide bombers targeted worshippers on a key Muslim festival in northern Afghanistan, killing seven, including two local police commanders, officials said Sunday.

The bombers struck as Muslims were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Old Baghlan City after prayers at the start of the Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.

At least 18 other people were taken to hospitals with injuries from the attack in Hassin Tal, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) east of the city.

One bomber blew himself up and the second was captured before he could set off his explosives, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for the regional police commander in the north.

The bombings raise questions about Afghan forces' ability to tackle the insurgency head-on without their NATO partners. NATO is working to handing over full security responsibilities to Afghan forces before the end of 2014, when the coalition plans to withdraw its combat troops.

NATO officials say attacks such as Sunday's bombing do little more than grab headlines and have little impact on the balance of strength between the government and the insurgents.

Kamen Khan, the police chief in Old Baghlan City, said one of the two dead local police commanders was a well-known local leader named Abdul who, like many Afghans, goes only by one name.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban, against whom NATO has waged a decade-long war, routinely target Afghan officials and security forces as well as international forces.

In his Eid message two days ago, Taliban leader Mullah Omar said his fighters must protect Afghan civilians, who are dying in rising numbers, so the insurgency can maintain good relations with the population.

U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, condemned the bombing and challenged Omar to do so, too.

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