Authorities in Afghanistan say at least six people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing at the funeral of a provincial governor, who had been killed in a separate suicide blast. The attack in Khost province comes as NATO and Afghan forces have stepped up anti-insurgent operations in the south of the country, killing nearly 200 Taleban in the past few days.
Police officials in Khost province, in Afghanistan's southeast, say that hundreds of people had gathered Monday for the funeral of the governor of the neighboring Paktia province.
A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up among the mourners. Dozens of people were injured, including a top police official. However, several government ministers at the funeral of Governor Abdul Hakim Taniwal escaped unhurt.
Taniwal was killed Sunday, along with two other people, in a suicide attack outside his office.
Taleban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack at the funeral.
NATO and Afghan military forces say they have killed almost 200 Taleban insurgents over the past few days in an ongoing offensive in southern province of Kandahar.
NATO spokesman Major Luke Knittig says the latest deaths came when Taleban insurgents staged a counterattack on Sunday.
"We think from our efforts yesterday [Sunday] that we have killed 92 insurgents in repelling that counterattack, which is separate from a strike that we think took out 94 insurgents," he said.
According to NATO figures, the deaths reported on Monday bring Taleban losses to more than 500 in 10 days of fighting in the districts of Panjwayi and Zhari. The militants, however, have said their losses are much smaller.
The NATO spokesman says that allied forces continue to gain ground and are driving Taleban insurgents from the strongholds they occupied in those districts.
The funeral bombing came on the five year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks that led to the Taleban being expelled from power in Afghanistan by a U.S-led coalition. The Taleban government was allied with the al-Qaida terrorist network that carried out the U.S. attacks.
Over the past year, the Taleban has fought an increasingly bloody guerrilla war against the elected Afghan government and allied forces in the country, as well as those seen as supporting them.