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Suicide bomber kills at least 22 at Afghan wedding, including prominent politician

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber blew himself up at a wedding reception in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing an influential politician and at least 21 other people, police said. At least 40 people were injured.

Prominent Afghan lawmaker Ahmad Khan Samangani was hosting the wedding reception for his daughter, provincial governor Khairullah Anosh said.

The death toll makes Saturday's attack one of the most lethal in the country for months.

"It was Ahmad Khan Samangani's daughter's wedding. A suicide bomber blew himself up, killing and wounding dozens," Anosh told Reuters.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

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"We don't have a hand in this issue," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. "Ahmad Khan (Samangani) was a former commander of the mujahideen, he was notorious and many people could have had problems with him."

A witness told BBC News that the hall where the reception was taking place was packed with around 100 people.

The suicide bomber reportedly pretended to be a guest at the wedding and greeted Samangani before detonating his explosives.

According to the BBC, a senior regional police commander related to Samangani was among those killed.

Supporter of President Karzai
Samangani, a powerful political figure from Samangan province and member of parliament, was also a former mujahideen chief who fought against the Soviets in the 1980s, and against the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule.

Ahmad Jamshid / AP

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul reported that Samangani was a supporter of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Afghans in some parts of northern Afghanistan, which is relatively peaceful compared with volatile southern and eastern parts of the country, hold ceremonies early in the morning.

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Civilians bear the brunt of the violence in Afghanistan, which is at its worst since the Islamist Taliban government was toppled by U.S.-led Afghan forces more than a decade ago.

Taliban insurgents fighting against President Hamid Karzai's Western-backed government have carried out dozens of suicide attacks this year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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