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Suicide bomber kills 14 at Afghan province council

KABUL -- A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform killed 14 people, including a prominent provincial council chief, outside the council headquarters in northern Afghanistan on Monday, authorities said. The Taliban insurgency quickly claimed responsibility.

Seeking to weaken the Afghan government, Taliban insurgents have been carrying out attacks and assassinations intended to intimidate both officials and civilians before next year's withdrawal of most international troops.

Baghlan provincial council leader Mohammad Rasoul Mohseni was entering the compound in the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri in the morning when the bomber approached on foot and detonated his explosives, said Baghlan chief of police Asadullah Sherzad.

The attacker was dressed in police uniform and had blended with officers at a checkpoint near the council headquarters. He then slipped into a group of people surrounding Mohseni and set off his bomb in the crowd, said Baghlan deputy police chief Mohammad Sadeq Muradi.

"He was basically waiting for his target, who was Rasoul Mohseni," Muradi said.

Two of Mohseni's police bodyguards, four checkpoint policemen and seven civilians were killed, he said. It was unclear whether the attacker was actually a member of Afghan security forces or an insurgent who bought or stole a uniform.

Mohammad Zahier Ghanizada, a member of parliament from Baghlan, said that Mohseni had received many death threats. -- AP

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