KABUL — A suicide bomber attacked a wedding in northern Afghanistan Saturday, killing a prominent Afghan lawmaker and at least 18 others, including several key local officials and politicians.
Ahmad Khan Samangani, a top member of parliament and former warlord, was attending his daughter's wedding in Samangan province when an attacker, who claimed to be a guest, entered the large hall where the event took place and detonated an explosive vest, according to Samangan Gov. Khairullah Anosh.
“It was a horrible explosion which created panic and it created chaos among the people,” said Mohammad Ishaq Rahgozar, a lawmaker from Balkh province. “It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life.”
Samangani was one of the country's most prominent Uzbek leaders — a man who represented the interests of the ethnic minority in parliament — and a well-known power broker in Samangan. He was known informally as a commander in the northern forces fighting Soviet occupation in the 1980s and thereafter became a fierce opponent of the Taliban.
Ahmad Khan, a member of parliament and Mohammad Khan, the head of the province's intelligence agency, were also killed, Anosh said. The Associated Press, citing President Hamid Karzai, put the death toll at 23. More than 60 others were wounded.
Unlike most suicide attacks, the Taliban did not claim responsibility for Samangani's assassination.
“We are not taking responsibility yet because we do not have any report about who the suicide bomber was,” said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. “Our mujahadeen in the area do not know who the suicide bomber was.”
In a statement, Karzai called the perpetrators, “enemies of Afghanistan.”
The attack comes one day after a female Afghan politician in Laghman province was killed by an attacker in eastern Afghanistan.
"The string of assassinations are clearly setbacks …[but] I don't think they are nation-breakers by any means," U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.