Gunfight at wedding leaves 21 dead, wounds 10 in northern Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP):
A shoot-out at a wedding party in northern Afghanistan has left 21 people dead and eight wounded, an official said yesterday.
Abdul Jabar Perdili, police chief of Baghlan province, said a gunfight broke out between two groups attending the wedding in Dih Salah district late Sunday. 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, earlier had 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 United States-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, Colonel 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 General Mohammad Asef Jabarkhail.
Jabarkhail said the surrender came after Taliban fighters attacked police checkpoints on Sunday. 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.