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18 killed as suicide bomber targets funeral in Afghanistan

An explosion at a funeral in Afghanistan’s restive east on December 31 killed at least 18 mourners and wounded another 13, officials said, capping a deadly year for ordinary Afghans.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast which authorities initially said was caused by a suicide attacker but now believe was triggered by explosives attached to a motorcycle.

The Taliban said on Twitter they had nothing to do with the incident — the latest violence to claim the lives of civilians in the war-torn country.

“The explosion was caused by a motorcycle bomb our investigation has concluded,” Nangarhar Province Governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

The Governor’s office put the death toll from the attack near the provincial capital Jalalabad at 18, with 13 wounded. Provincial health director Najib Kamawal confirmed the new toll.

The explosion happened during the funeral ceremony for a former Governor of Haska Mina district who died recently of natural causes, a statement from the Governor’s office said.

The twisted wreckage of a motorcycle lay in the dirt at the cemetery.

Pools of blood, clothes, shoes and hats were scattered on the ground.

Photos posted on social media purportedly of the scene showed bodies lying in blood and a plume of black smoke rising into the sky. Terrified mourners, mostly elderly men, could be seen running from the scene.

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