Afghanistan suicide blast kills 28

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At least 28 civilians were killed and 32 wounded in a suicide blast at a government office in the Afghan north, officials said Monday, in the latest in a string of high-casualty attacks.

The blast took place shortly after noon (0730 GMT) as people were queuing outside a district office in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province to collect new identity cards and other paperwork.

It came two days after several Taliban suicide bombers hit a bank in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, killing 38 people and wounding more than 70 others -- the deadliest attack in months.

District governor Mohammad Ayob Haqyar said the bomb struck people waiting outside the district office headquarters to apply for and collect official documents.

"A suicide attacker detonated his explosives in the waiting area and killed and wounded around 50 people... we are busy helping the wounded and collecting dead bodies, he added.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary confirmed the death toll and called the incident a "disaster."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from insurgent groups.

Northern Afghanistan had been less troubled by Taliban insurgents than the south, but recent months have brought increasing insecurity to areas such as Kunduz as the rebellion fans wider across the country.

In Saturday's Jalalabad attack, 38 people were killed when four suicide attackers detonated at a bank in the eastern city, apparently targeting police collecting their salaries.

A day earlier, nine people died in a car bombing near a district police headquarters in the eastern city of Khost.

The previous week, 19 people including 15 police and an Afghan intelligence agent died when suicide bombers armed with guns, grenades and car bombs targeted police headquarters in Afghanistan's de facto southern capital, Kandahar.

There have also been two attacks in Kabul in recent weeks -- one last month when eight people were killed in an attack on a supermarket popular with Westerners and another last week when two died at a shopping mall.

The Afghan police and army are due to take responsibility for security from 2014, allowing the bulk of international troops to withdraw.

Foreign forces have been accused of causing mass civilian casualties in operations over recent days -- a highly sensitive subject as the troops wage a counterinsurgency effort against the Taliban.

Afghan officials Monday accused NATO forces of killing a family of six in an air strike, a day after President Hamid Karzai said 50 innocent people had died in aerial attacks nearby.

A limited withdrawal of foreign forces is expected to start from the more stable provinces of Afghanistan from July ahead of a full transition to Afghan control by 2014.

In the latest civilian deaths, a couple and their four children were killed overnight when a misdirected NATO missile hit their mud-built home in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan in the east, local officials told AFP.

There are currently around 140,000 international forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

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