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Suicide bomber kills 22 at wedding

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UPDATE 2-Suicide bomber kills 22, wounds 40 at Afghan wedding

(Adds Taliban denial of responsibility)

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan, July 14 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up at a wedding reception in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 22 people including a prominent politician, and wounding 40 others, police said.

The death toll makes Saturday's attack one of the most lethal in the country for months. Influential Afghan lawmaker Ahmad Khan Samangani, who hosted the party, was among those killed, provincial governor Khairullah Anosh said.

“It was Ahmad Khan Samangani's daughter's wedding. A suicide bomber blew himself up, killing and wounding dozens,” Anosh told Reuters.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

“We don't have a hand in this issue,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “Ahmad Khan (Samangani) was a former commander of the mujahideen, he was notorious and many people could have had problems with him.”

Samangani, a powerful political figure from Samangan province, was also a former mujahideen chief who fought against the Soviets in the 1980s, and against the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule.

Afghans in some parts of northern Afghanistan, which is relatively peaceful compared with volatile southern and eastern parts of the country, hold ceremonies early in the morning.

Civilians bear the brunt of the violence in Afghanistan, which is at its worst since the Islamist Taliban government was toppled by U.S.-led Afghan forces more than a decade ago.

Taliban insurgents fighting against President Hamid Karzai's Western-backed government have carried out dozens of suicide attacks this year. -Reuters


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