KABUL -- A suicide bomber blew himself up among guests at a wedding hall yesterday in northern Afghanistan, killing 23 people, including a prominent ex-Uzbek warlord turned lawmaker who was the father of the bride.

The attack was the latest to target top figures from the country's minority groups and dealt a blow to efforts to unify ethnic factions amid growing concerns that the country could descend into civil war after foreign combat troops withdraw in 2014.

Ahmad Khan Samangani, an ethnic Uzbek who commanded forces fighting the Soviets in the 1980s and later became a member of parliament, was welcoming guests to his daughter's wedding Saturday morning when the blast ripped through the building in Aybak, the capital of Samangan province.

Three Afghan security force officials also were among those killed. About 60 other people, including government officials, were wounded in the attack, which left the wedding hall's black-and-white tile floor covered with shattered glass, blood and other debris.

Chairs adorned with pink fabric lay strewn across the site. Dead bodies were piled into the back of Afghan security force vehicles.

Afghan Army helicopters ferried some of the wounded from the wedding hall, which has a facade of pillars painted a festive light green and pink.

The bride and groom survived, but never got the chance to exchange vows.

It was the latest in a string of deadly attacks. In one of the worst, Taliban fighters attacked a lakeside hotel north of Kabul on June 22, killing 18 people. Two days earlier, a suicide bomber killed 21 people, including three U.S. soldiers, in the eastern city of Khost.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in a phone call that the Taliban neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

In announcing its spring offensive on May 2, the Taliban said it would continue to target those who back the Karzai government and the U.S.-led international military coalition.

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