A suicide bomber in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province killed 29 people on Saturday evening.
Authorities said that the bomber had targeted a meeting of criminal groups in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province late on Saturday. The Afghan Interior Ministry had initially stated that all those killed were civilians, but local officials confirmed that the attack had specifically targeted anti-Taliban militiamen.
One Afghan official said that the majority of the victims were members of illegal armed groups that had clashed with security forces as well as with local Taliban groupings in the past. Twenty-five of those killed were later identified as members of the armed groups, including four leaders, while the remaining four were named as civilians. Nineteen others were reported as wounded, including 15 civilians.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came shortly after a barrage of bombings in Kabul had killed at least 51 people on Friday - the deadliest day for the capital in years. The bombings in Kabul struck near an army complex, a police academy and a US special forces base.
The Taliban have stepped up their attacks across the country since US and NATO forces shifted from a combat to a support and training role at the end of last year. But this week saw the most devastating attacks in years as Mullah Akhtar Mansour was named as the new Taliban chief in an acrimonious power transition after the insurgents confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.
Hangings and beheadings
Meanwhile, the Taliban were also trying to flex their muscles elsewhere in the country in order to prove their remaining authority after the power transition.
Taliban insurgents in northeastern Afghanistan executed a 27-year-old mother of three after accusing her of having extramarital sex. A government official confirmed on Sunday that a group of armed militants had hanged a woman to death over adultery charges in the northern Badakhshan province.
Nawid Frotan, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that the woman had been hanged from a tree before a public gathering in front of her husband and family early Saturday.
"A woman was found guilty of adultery charges during a Taliban court hearing in Warduj district on Saturday," said Frotan.
In a separate incident, Taliban insurgents also beheaded two local policemen and a civilian in the same province on Saturday. The insurgents had accused the three of spying, Frotan said.
The insurgency has been rapidly spreading across the north of Afghanistan from its traditional southern and eastern strongholds, with Afghan forces increasingly battling the militants on their own.
ss/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa)