A Taliban suicide bomber struck at a wedding in a strategic district in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.
The bomber, wearing a vest packed with explosives and ball bearings to maximize casualties, entered a tent and detonated.
“Right now I can say that dozens of people were killed and injured in the blast,” a senior police official in Kandahar told The Hindu. “It was a suicide bomber that targeted the wedding party.”
The suicide bomber killed 40 people and wounded 74, according to Xinhua. The groom and several children were among those wounded.
The target of the attack is not yet known. According to AFP, the families in attendance support neither the Taliban or the government. But a Reuters report indicated many of the guests had links to local police.
Taliban suicide bombers are often recruited and trained in Taliban and al Qaeda camps in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan.
The Taliban have carried out a campaign of assassination and intimidation against tribal leaders and politicians who back the government and Coalition forces. More than 20 senior officials, including the deputy mayor of Kandahar, have been killed by Taliban assassins over the past several months.
The attack may be revenge for the killing of two senior Taliban leaders in Kandahar since late May. On May 30, Afghan and Coalition special operations forces killed Mullah Zergay, who led the Taliban in Kandahar City, as well as in the vital districts of Zhari and Arghandab. On May 29, Afghan and Coalition forces killed Haji Amir, who was described as one of the top two Taliban leaders in all of Kandahar province.
Kandahar is considered to be the center of the Taliban’s power base in Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force has placed great emphasis on Kandahar and is deploying the bulk of its forces en route to Afghanistan to the province. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said that progress must be made by December in Kandahar, and in other key areas in the south, east, and north, in order for Western nations to continue their support for the war.