Afghan president announces three days' mourning
Kabul, November 7, 2007 (AFP): Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced three days of national mourning after a suicide blast in the north of the country that he said killed at least 41 people, six of them lawmakers.
"We announce three days of national mourning starting from today," a solemn-looking Karzai told reporters in Kabul at a press briefing called after Tuesday's blast. "The flags of the country will be at half mast."
The president said his information was that 35 people had been killed as well as the six lawmakers but this toll was still being finalised.
The head of hospitals in the northern province of Baghlan, Yousuf Faiz, told AFP late Tuesday that 40 people were killed and 120 wounded. Most of the casualties were children, he said.
This makes it the deadliest suicide attack in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents have in the past three years dramatically stepped up their use of such bombings in a campaign against the government.
Almost all of the country's television stations abandoned normal programming Wednesday to broadcast recitations from the Koran, religious music and analysis of the attack.
Karzai said the killed MPs -- who included Mustafa Kazimi, a former commerce minister who was a key figure in the opposition -- would be given a state funeral.
The parliament had requested that they are all be buried near the parliament building as a memorial, he said, and this was being debated.
"I want to offer my condolences to the nation via the media," Karzai said.
"The Afghan nation is much stronger than the enemy thinks. Such incidents will not deter us from our goals," he said.
Karzai said the incident would be thoroughly investigated.
The Taliban has denied it was behind the attack but has before rejected involvement in incidents with a high civilian toll.