Suicide bomber hits Afghan funeral

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KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday during a funeral in northern Afghanistan, killing about 20 people, including a member of the national parliament, a government spokesman said.

The attack occurred as mourners were leaving after the end of the funeral in the town of Talaqan, said Faid Mohammad Tawhedi, a spokesman for the governor's office in northern Takhar province. Fifteen people were injured in the blast, he said.

Tawhedi said the dead included parliament member Abdul Mutaleb Baik.

Suicide attacks are rare in Takhar province, which is located 155 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Kabul and is considered one the nation's calmer regions.

Sayed Ikramuddin Masomi, another lawmaker from Takhar province, confirmed that Baik had died.

"The suicide attacker killed 10 innocent people and unfortunately Abdul Mutaleb Baik was among them," he said in a telephone interview.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But over the past year, the Taliban have repeatedly struck at prominent government figures. In September, a suicide attacker killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president and head of the nation's peace council.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said Sunday that security forces killed 30 suspected insurgents in a series of clashes around the country.

A ministry statement said army, police and NATO troops launched a total of 11 operations in the past 24 hours across the country. It said seven insurgents were arrested.

Sunday's statement said the killed insurgents were armed and that weapons were recovered in the operations.

Separately, NATO says one of its helicopters crash landed in Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province on Sunday after taking small-arms fire from the ground. There were no injuries among the crew.

NATO relies on helicopters to avoid using roads that are frequently mined by the insurgents.