At least ten people have been killed and more than twenty others injured in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province, media reports quoting unnamed Afghan officials said Wednesday.
The suicide bombing reportedly targeted a meeting of officials in the provincial capital of Maymana. Officials have expressed fears that the death toll in the incident could rise further as many of the injured are in critical condition.
Such attacks are common in Afghanistan, but the country's northern regions, particularly Faryab province, have been relatively peaceful compared with the rest of the country. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Although the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced earlier in the day three of its service personnel had been killed in an IED (improvised explosive device) attack in northern Afghanistan, it has since indicated that the two incidents were not linked.
ISAF said it was aware of the "reported civilian/military casualties" in Faryab and added that it was investigating those reports. Meanwhile, unconfirmed Afghan media reports said at least two US soldiers were among the victims of the suicide bombing.
Foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan have been the target of renewed militant attacks in recent weeks, following the burning of copies of the Holy Koran at a US airbase in February and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a rogue American soldier last month.
Currently, there are over 130,000 foreign troops from more than 42 countries in Afghanistan to contain a resurgent Taliban in the land-locked country. ISAF has already begun the process of entrusting security responsibilities of several provinces to Afghan forces.
ISAF is aiming to complete the process by 2014, ahead of the eventual withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan that same year. The U.S. and its allies are presently making efforts to get the Afghan security forces ready and capable of handling local security prior to the coalition troops eventual withdrawal.
However, there are wide concerns in the Central Asian country about the ability of Afghan security forces to counter the Taliban insurgency without the same level of foreign military assistance and presence.
by RTT Staff Writer
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