A suicide bomber killed at least 23 people, including the country's deputy head of intelligence, in an attack in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said.
Abdullah Laghmani, the deputy head of the powerful National Directorate for Security, was one of the highest-ranking security officials in President Hamid Karzai's government to be killed. The attack was also one of the biggest this year.
Sayed Ahmad Safi, spokesman for the governor of Laghman province, put the death toll at 23. He said two senior provincial officials had been killed along with Laghmani.
The bomber struck near a mosque in the provincial capital Mehtar Lam in mountains about 100 km (60 miles) east of Kabul.
Eight ambulances left the scene, headed towards Jalalabad, the nearest major city.
A police source said Laghman governor Lutfullah Mashal had been wounded but Mashal's spokesman could not confirm the claim.
A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said the attack was carried out by one of the group's members.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the NDS deputy, provincial council chief and senior police officials were among the dead.
ReutersLast Mod: 02 Eylül 2009, 14:11