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Afghan official: 21 dead, 8 wounded in wedding gunfight


A shootout at a wedding party in northern Afghanistan has left 21 people dead and eight wounded, an official said today.

Abdul Jabar Perdili, police chief of Baghlan province, said a gunfight broke out between two groups attending the wedding in Dih Salah district late yesterday. He said that most of the dead were wedding guests and at least two of the wounded were younger than 18 years old.

Perdili’s spokesman, Jaweed Basharat, had earlier said that 10 people were wounded. Conflicting accounts are common in the chaotic aftermath of violent incidents.

Baghlan and other provinces of the north have been plagued by insurgent attacks since the US-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban. However, the war is often used as a cover for criminal activity and personal feuds.

The police chief of Dih Salah, Col Gulistan Qasani, said hostility between the two groups involved in the gunfight had been simmering for many years.

“The clash broke out after a relative of a provincial police official was assassinated during the wedding party,” Qasani said.

He said some 400 people had gathered at a private house for the wedding of a local mullah’s son.

“When we collected the bodies it was difficult to determine who were the shooters and who were not, because I could not find any weapons,” Qasani said.

Meanwhile in northern Sari Pul province, a local police commander and seven of his men surrendered to the Taliban in Kohistanat district, according to provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Asef Jabarkhail.

Jabarkhail said the surrender came after Taliban fighters attacked police checkpoints yesterday. Reinforcements have reached the area to support police still fighting, he said.

The Taliban, who often exaggerate battlefield gains, said in a statement that 100 police in Sari Pul had defected to their side, a claim Jabarkhail denied.

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