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Suicide bomber kills 18 Afghan protesters

Suicide bomber targets Afghan protest of provincial governor, accused of corruption

A suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday killed 18 people who were involved in a protest against a local official.

In the late-morning attack, the bomber detonated his explosives among a crowd calling for the resignation of Abdul Jabbar Naeemi, governor of the eastern province of Khost.

The provincial government's spokesman, Mobarez Zadran, said 64 people were wounded. Among them was Homayoun Homayoun, head of the defense committee in parliament.

Amir Shah Rahmatzai Mangal, a former provincial public health official, said some of the wounded had been transferred to Kabul for treatment.

Mangal said the protest against Naeemi, whom locals accuse of corruption and illegal land grabs, began on Facebook. Demonstrators gathered at a stadium a day earlier and erected a tent near the directorate of public health.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

Elsewhere in the country, local media reported that Simin Hasanzada, deputy minister of information and culture, was fired for making comments on her Facebook page that seemed to support the mob killing of a woman who was wrongly accused of burning the Koran at a Kabul shrine.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

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