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    Kunduz governor among a dozen killed in blast

    KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): The governor of northern Kunduz province, Muhammad Omar, who had survived a series of assassination attempts, was among a dozen people killed in a massive bomb blast at a mosque in northern Takhar province on Friday, officials said.

    Another 20 people were wounded in the explosion during Friday prayers at the Spinghar mosque in Taluqan, the provincial capital, where the governor regularly attended Friday prayers, Faiz Muhammad Tawheedi, the governor's spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    It was a pre-planted bomb which exploded when a large number of people, including Omar, were offering Friday prayers.

    A resident, Haji Muhammad Hakim, said he saw the dead bodies of the governor, the prayer leader and a tribal elder on the mosque floor.

    "Prayers were ongoing when the massive explosion that shook the mosque took place", he added.

    The worshippers escaped, but came back to help the wounded, the resident said. "There were stains of blood and human flesh scattered all around," he added

    Eng. Omar was resident of Takhar province.

    There was no claim of responsibility for the blast.

    Afghan officials are prime targets for the Taliban and other militant groups that have instituted an assassination campaign against people who work with the Afghan government or NATO forces.

    On September 28, a suicide bomber killed a deputy provincial governor and five others in Ghazni province. The bomber rammed a motorised rickshaw loaded with explosives into a convoy taking deputy governor Khazim Allayar to his office in Ghazni city. His son, a nephew, a bodyguard and two civilians also were killed.

    Takhar has been the scene of escalating violence amid intensified military operations by NATO and Afghan forces in recent days.