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Afghan Blast North of Kabul Kills at Least 40

A suicide attack targeting a group of Afghan lawmakers some 150 kilometers north of Kabul has killed at least 40 people and wounded scores more. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that the blast killed at least five members of parliament.

The attack targeted a delegation of parliament members who were preparing to visit a sugar factory in Baghlan province, north of Kabul.

Government officials and local residents had gathered to greet the delegation outside the factory when the blast detonated.

Witnesses in Baghlan described a grisly scene, with scores of dying and wounded people spread over the street. Witnesses said children were among the victims.

A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, Humayun Hamidzada, condemned the attack.

"The government of Afghanistan is strongly condemning this inhuman, un-Afghan and un-Islamic act," Hamidzada said.

An Afghan member of parliament, Shukria Barikzai, called on the government to root out terrorists who are carrying out al-Qaida style suicide attacks.

"It is not an Islamic tradition, it is really an anti-Islamic issue right now in Afghanistan," Shukria said. "We are really asking our government to be strong and to be more strong and particularly for the people of Afghanistan this is our voice, please try to be a responsible nation, do not allow terrorists to come and don't become a victim of their extremist ideology any more."

Northern Afghanistan has been largely spared from the violence that has gripped the south, where Taliban fighters have launched an offensive. The violence has made 2007 the deadliest year since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.