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Well-known Afghan commander among 23 dead in blast



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Mohammad Nawab Sherzai, criminal investigations director in Aybak who was helping provide security for the wedding, said most of the local guests had already gathered on the upper floors of the three-story wedding hall when the bomber struck. Samangani and other relatives and elders had moved to the first floor to welcome additional guests arriving from Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of neighboring Balkh province.

"Suddenly, the attacker, who was among the guests from Mazar-i-Sharif, got very close to Samangani. He detonated his suicide vest," Sherzai said. "It was a big explosion. There were bloody bodies all around the first floor. The explosion was so strong. There were people even on the third floor who were wounded."

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"There was dark smoke all around. After about 10 minutes, the people were able to see the bodies and start helping with the wounded," he said.

Samangani became famous during Afghanistan’s fight against the Soviets, who left the country in 1989 after a 10-year occupation. He became a member of parliament last year and was considered a key leader in Samangan and northern Afghanistan. He was a former military commander under Northern Alliance general Abdul Rashid Dostum, a powerful Uzbek warlord.

The three Afghan security force officials killed were Afghan National Police Gen. Sayed Ahmad Sameh, the commander for the western region and a relative of Samangani; Gen. Mohammad Khan, the intelligence chief in the province; and Mohammadullah, an Afghan National Army division commander who also uses only one name.

Also on Saturday, two NATO service members were killed in the east — one in an insurgent attack and the other as a result of a non-battle related injury. The U.S.-led coalition did not disclose any other details. So far this year, 235 NATO service members have died in Afghanistan.

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Associated Press Writers Amir Shah and Patrick Quinn in Kabul contributed to this report.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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