WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2006 – A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive strapped to his body today during the funeral ceremony for the late governor of Afghanistan's Paktia province, Mohammad Hakim Taniwal, U.S. military officials reported. As family, friends, colleagues and government officials paid their last respects to Taniwal in Khowst province, the suicide bomber approached the funeral and detonated the explosive, killing six people, including two Afghan National Police officers, and injuring more than 35 civilians. Religious leaders condemned the attack, officials said.
Coalition forces responded immediately and transported the injured to the Khowst hospital, where they are being treated.
"The Taliban have dishonored the sanctity of a Muslim funeral," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "The Taliban have no regard for life and no respect for honor, tradition or religion. Today's attack proves to all Afghans and Muslims that the Taliban are willing to destroy the future of Afghanistan and its people's way of life."
Today's attack will not deter reconstruction and development in the province or throughout Afghanistan, Fitzpatrick said. "Good governance and security will continue to be extended throughout Afghanistan," he said. "The government showed its strength and resolve by the smooth transition of provincial governance in a time of crisis."
In other new from Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces detained a known al Qaeda member today during an early-morning raid of a compound in Nangarhar province. Six other suspected al Qaeda associates also were detained without incident, officials said.
Intelligence indicates the detainees were involved in anti-government and anti-coalition activities. Several women and children also were located in the compound, and a large number of documents were confiscated. No civilians, or Afghan or coalition forces were injured during the operation.
Also, Afghan and coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists in Khowst province during an operation yesterday. The suspects were detained after Afghan authorities entered multiple compounds, which intelligence indicated were used by al Qaeda members.
The detained terrorists are linked to plotting makeshift-bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Khowst province. Several women and children were present within the compounds, and all were unharmed during the operation, officials said
No Afghan or coalition forces were injured during the operation.