- Death toll hits 8 in suicide attack
A suicide bomber attacked people leaving a memorial service at a mosque in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing his apparent target, a district chief, and seven others, police said.
Exact casualty figures were not immediately available, but the attack underscored the tenuous security situation in Afghanistan as U.S. troops prepare to pull out by the end of next year.
The bomber struck in Dashi Archi district of Kunduz province. Afghanistan's north is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, but in recent years it has seen increasing militant activity.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday morning's attack, though suspicion will likely fall on the Afghan Taliban, who have been behind many assassinations in the country.
The militant group has escalated its actions in recent months to take advantage of the drawdown of U.S.-led foreign troops, who handed over security for the country to Afghan forces two months ago
There are currently about 100,000 troops from 48 countries in Afghanistan with the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, 60,000 of them American. By the end of this year, the NATO force will be halved, and all foreign combat troops are expected to be gone by the end of next year.
Because of the drawdown, much is riding on the abilities of the fledgling Afghan security forces, which now number about 352,000.
Afghan and coalition officials have warned that the Taliban would intensify the tempo of their attacks following the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, as they try to take advantage of the two or three months left of good weather before the harsh Afghan winter sets in. The traditional fighting period lasts from March until the end of October.
The Taliban have already staged multiple attacks this week, leaving dozens dead and even more wounded.