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Afghan lawmaker among 19 killed in attack by suicide bomber

A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday just after a funeral in northern Afghanistan, killing 19 people, including a member of the national parliament, the Interior Ministry said.

The attack came as mourners were leaving at the end of the funeral of a village elder in the town of Talaqan in northern Takhar province, a statement said, killing 19 and wounding 40. Among the dead was parliament member Abdul Mutaleb Baik.

Suicide attacks are rare in Takhar province, which is located 155 miles northeast of Kabul and is considered one the nation's calmer regions.

Sayed Ikramuddin Masomi, another lawmaker from Takhar province, confirmed that the lawmaker was killed.

"The suicide attacker killed innocent people, and unfortunately Abdul Mutaleb Baik was among them," he said in a telephone interview.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Over the past year, the Taliban have repeatedly struck at officials and other prominent figures in an apparent effort to paralyze the government. In September, a suicide attacker killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former Afghan president and head of the nation's peace council.

President Hamid Karzai immediately condemned the attack in Takhar province, describing it as "an inhuman action by the enemies of Afghanistan."

U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the coalition's top commander in Afghanistan, said, "These attackers are cowards, callously targeting and killing families and friends who had gathered to mourn a loved one."

Also Sunday, the Interior Ministry said security forces killed 30 suspected insurgents in a series of clashes around the country.

A ministry statement said army, police and NATO troops launched 11 operations in the past 24 hours across the country. It said seven insurgents were arrested.

Sunday's statement said the killed insurgents were armed and that weapons were recovered in the operations.

Separately, NATO said one of its service members was killed Sunday in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan. The statement provided no further details.

The soldier was the 19th coalition fighter to die this month in Afghanistan.