Kandahar: At least 40 people were killed and 77 injured by a suicide bomb attack on a wedding party in insurgency-plagued southern Afghanistan, a police official said on Thursday.
"A suicide bomber went inside the party where hundreds of people were sitting and blew himself up," the official said of Wednesday night`s blast in Arghandab district, north of Kandahar, where foreign troops are focusing on a push in coming months to whittle out the Taliban.
A Kandahar policeman said many of the guests had links to local police officials or a local militia, which was why it was likely targeted by the Taliban.
In the immediate aftermath, he said, some panicked guests mistakenly thought the party had been struck by an air raid.
A spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan said it was aware of the blast and had helped local security forces in follow up operations.
"This is an Afghan matter," the spokeswoman said.
While the Taliban are responsible for most civilian deaths in the country, foreign forces have killed hundreds of civilians -- either mistaking them for insurgents or as a result of misdirected air strikes.
Rural wedding parties in Afghanistan can often be raucous affairs with large gatherings of people and frequently accompanied by celebratory gunfire. Several have mistakenly been attacked in the past by foreign forces.
The Taliban have regrouped since their US-led overthrow in 2001 and now engage a foreign force that is expected to grow to 150,000 in coming months as part of an offensive against insurgent strongholds in the south.
A favoured tactic is improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or suicide attacks on foreign or Afghan forces, but pro-government sympathisers are also targeted and the insurgency used as a cover to settle old scores.