Twin bombing at Afghan ceremony kills 4, including official

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A twin bombing at a public ceremony in southern Afghanistan on Saturday killed at least four people, including a provincial official, and wounded more than 30, officials said.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said the bombings targeted a celebration of Farmer's Day in a sports stadium in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Mohammad Khan Nasrat, the economic director of Helmand, was among those killed in the attack, the government said in a statement.

Zwak said 31 other people were wounded in the blasts, including provincial council members and provincial security officials, but he said none were in critical condition.

The Taliban, who effectively control half the country, including large parts of Helmand province, claimed the attack. The insurgents have kept up their daily attacks on Afghan security forces and government targets even as they have held several rounds of talks with the United States in recent months aimed at ending the 17-year war.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, gunmen shot and killed Obaidullah Barekzai, a former lawmaker, in the southern Kandahar province, according to the provincial police chief. Gen. Tadeen Khan said the gunmen opened fire on Barekzai's vehicle on Saturday in Kandahar city. No one immediately claimed the attack.

In the northern Kunduz province, dozens of people protested against a military operation while carrying the remains of their loved ones. Photos from the protest showed what appeared to be the bodies of 12 people, including five or six small children.

Police spokesman Inamuddin Rahmani said there were operations in three different areas in Kunduz over the last three days that killed scores of insurgents.

"We are investigating if any civilians were killed or wounded," he said.

On Friday, two American service members were killed during an operation in Kunduz province. The Taliban said Friday they were engaged in heavy fighting with Afghan and U.S. forces in Kunduz.

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