Suicide bomb attack near Afghan political gathering kills nine

U.S. Marines with 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, control detonate a an enemy emplaced improvised explosive device during a security patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers in Sangin, Afghanistan, Jan. 5, 2011. Marines conducted security patrols to decrease insurgency and gain the trust of the people. The battalion, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, conducted counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the International Security Assistance Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Ortiz/Released)

A suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital on Thursday near a gathering of supporters of an influential regional leader killed at least nine people and wounded many, the interior ministry said.

It was not clear if the politician, Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of the northern province of Balkh and a leader of the mainly ethnic Tajik Jamiat-i-Islami party, was at the meeting at the time of the attack.

Islamic State claimed responsibility, according to Amaq, its official news agency. The Taliban denied involvement.

“We are proud to be martyred because of our country and our rights. This gathering was for the sake of our country to raise our voice,” said witness Jan Mohammad.

The explosion was the latest in a wave of violence that has killed and wounded thousands of civilians in Afghanistan this year.

Political tensions are up as politicians have begun jockeying for position ahead of presidential elections expected in 2019. Continue reading.