A suicide attack has hit a gathering of tribal elders, on Wednesday 04/13/2011, in the Asmar district of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, killing Malik Zarin, a top pro-governement tribal leader, and 9 others, the country’s interior ministry has said (see also – Kunar 02.20.11).

“A suicide attacker targeted a gathering of tribal elders in the Asmar district of Kunar today,” Zemarai Bashary, interior ministry spokesman, told the AFP news agency. The spokesman said the slain tribal leader Malik Zarin was a key local pro-government elder.

Mohammad Shoaib, the district police chief, said the bomber blew himself up after approaching Malik Zarin, an influential tribal elder and a former military commander, to hug him in greeting.

The Taliban has denied that it was behind the attack. But its fighters frequently target pro-government figures as part of their near 10-year campaign against government forces and the roughly 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan.

Kunar is among Afghanistan’s most restive provinces and is on the border with Pakistan, where insurgents are thought to have rear bases.

The mountainous province of Kunar is one of the main strongholds of the Taliban and their Al Qaeda-linked allies in their battle against the government in Kabul and its international NATO-ISAF allies.

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