KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque where a remembrance ceremony was being held Friday for a top Afghan police commander, killing four police officers, authorities said.
Security forces confronted the bomber, who was dressed in traditional robes, before he entered the mosque in Kunduz City in the northern province of Kunduz, said provincial police chief Sami Ullah Qatra. A scuffle broke out and the bomber detonated his explosives, the force of the blast blowing out the glass windows of the mosque, Qatra said.
Six police officers were also wounded in the attack.
The ceremony Friday, attended by Qatra and other top local officials, was in honor of slain Gen. Daud Daud, a well known regional police commander in northern Afghanistan who was killed May 28 in a bombing at the governor's office in northeastern Takhar province where top police and NATO officials were meeting. German Gen. Markus Kneip, NATO's commander for northern Afghanistan, was among those wounded in the attack.
Daud was a former deputy interior minister and ex-bodyguard of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Tajik leader who commanded the Northern Alliance and died in an al-Qaida suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that prompted the U.S. invasion.
Friday's attack in the latest in Kunduz province, which has seen an increase in bombings and targeted assassinations in recent months as international forces have staged an offensive against the Taliban.
In March, the insurgency struck back with a suicide bombing at an army recruitment center, killing 35 volunteers, while a suicide bomber in February killed at least 30 people at a government office where Afghans were waiting in line for identification cards.
In October, a bomb killed Kunduz Gov. Mohammad Omar and 19 others in a crowded mosque in neighboring Takhar province. Omar was killed just days after he warned of escalating threats from Taliban and foreign fighters in the north.
The north is home to hide-outs for the Taliban, al-Qaida and fighters from other militant factions, including the Haqqani network, Hizb-i-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. NATO has sent more troops to the north and has been pushing harder into militant-held areas.
Friday's bombing comes as the Taliban begins its spring offensive, with stepped up roadside bombings and suicide attacks, as well as insurgent assaults on mountain or rural outposts.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.