The suicide bomber attacked foreign military forces, officials said.—File Photo

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: A suicide bomber attacked foreign military forces in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing up to 12 people, officials said, although the identities of the victims was unclear.

“A suicide bomber targeted a group of foreign friends” near a park in Maymana, the capital of Faryab province, provincial governor Abdul Haq Shafaq told AFP. “They were military.

“There are casualties, dead and wounded, but an exact death toll is not known yet. I don’t know their nationalities.”Faryab, which borders Turkmenistan, is far from centres of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan’s south and east, although the Islamist militia is present in some areas of the province and it suffers sporadic attacks.

There were conflicting reports about the exact death toll and the identity of the victims.

Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said two service members died following an explosion in northern Afghanistan, but refused to confirm whether it was the same incident.

Most foreign troops in Faryab are Norwegian and Lieutenant Colonel John Espen Lien, a spokesman for Norway’s armed forces, told AFP: “There are many dead and injured.

“The numbers I have for the time being are at least 12 killed, but this number is not definitive.” No Norwegian ISAF personnel were nearby at the time, he added.

Provincial police chief Abdul Khaliq Aqasai told AFP four policemen had been killed, and that US troops had told him four of their personnel had also died.

A doctor at the town’s hospital said the bodies of five civilians had been brought in, and 26 people were wounded.

The “foreign friends” group had visited the police headquarters in Faryab before going to the park to carry out filmed interviews with local residents, the governor said.

The Taliban could not immediately be reached for comment.

Norway contributes a little over 400 soldiers to the 130,000-strong ISAF, fighting a decade-long Taliban insurgency against President Hamid Karzai’s Western-backed government.

Nato is scheduled to hand responsibility for security across the country over to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014 and withdraw most foreign troops.

 

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