Kabul: At least 41 people were killed and 34 wounded when a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform targeted a mosque in northern Afghanistan`s Mainama city just after Eid-ul-Azha prayers, an official said.
"A suicide bomber targeted a mosque while people were leaving the mosque building after the Eid-ul-Azha prayers at around 9 a.m. Friday in Maimana city, killing 41 people and injuring 34 others," deputy to provincial governor Abdul Satar Bariz told Xinhua.
The dead include 23 members of the Afghan National Police, Bariz said, adding that the provincial police chief Abdul Khaliq Aqsay was among the wounded.
The bomber wore a police uniform as security was tight. High-ranking provincial officials were attending the prayers in Eid Gah mosque, the biggest mosque in the city, Bariz said.
However, local media Tolo News reported that the police chief of Faryab was killed in the attack, citing a member of Afghan Parliament from Faryab province.
Bariz said that the number of the casualties could rise as many of the wounded were in a critical condition.
The blast caused a plume of grey smoke to rise above the scene.
The wounded, along with the bodies of the dead, have been taken to provincial capital hospitals by police and civilian cars, the official said, adding that those in a critical condition will be transferred to neighbouring Balkh province.
After the special prayers of the festival, Afghans visit their relatives. They also butcher cattle or sheep and distribute the meat to the poor.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing, though it bears the hallmark of the Taliban.
The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since it launched an annual spring offensive dubbed "Al-Farooq" from May 3 against Afghan forces and the NATO-led troops stationed in the country.
The Taliban has warned the civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centres regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people against supporting government and foreign troops.
Despite the weak presence of Taliban in relatively peaceful Faryab province, which is 425 km northwest of capital Kabul, a number of Taliban-led attacks took place there over the past couple of years.
A total of nine civilians, including a member of provincial council named Amanullah Shahabzai, were killed and eight were wounded in a bomb attack in Faryab May 14, and three US soldiers, four Afghan policemen and six civilians were killed and 24 were wounded in a Taliban suicide bombing in Maimana April 4 this year.