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eid al adha

At least 37 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack at a mosque in Maymana, northern Afghanistan, officials say.

More than 40 people were wounded in the attack at the front of the mosque in Maymana, capital of Faryab province.

The provincial governor and police chief were said to be among those attending the prayers to mark the Eid al-Adha holidays, but they reportedly escaped without serious injury.

Civilians and police officers were among the dead, officials said.

Eye witnesses and officials said the suicide attacker approached the mosque and detonated his suicide vest after the Eid prayers had finished.

It is not clear now the attacker managed to get past at least four security checkpoints to target the mosque.

Deputy provincial governor Abdul Satar Barez told the AFP news agency that the attacker himself was wearing a police uniform.

Attacks in northern Afghanistan are far less common than in the south and east, and Faryab province has been considered to be relatively peaceful.

However at least 10 people were killed in an incident in April 2012 when a suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a meeting of officials near the main vegetable market in Maymana.


Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN’s envoy to Syria, says President Bashar al-Assad’s government has agreed to abide by a ceasefire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Cairo that most opposition factions had also said they would observe any ceasefire.

The government said it would make its final decision on Thursday.

Lakhdar Brahimi said he hoped to use the lull in fighting over Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, to “discuss a longer and more effective ceasefire”.

Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, is celebrated by Muslims to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as proof of obedience to God.

Lakhdar Brahimi has travelled across the Middle East over the past two weeks in an effort to persuade the Syrian government and opposition, as well as their respective backers, to agree to his proposal for a ceasefire to “allow a political process to develop”.

After holding talks on Wednesday with the Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, the Algerian diplomat announced that the Syrian government had expressed its support.

“After the visit I made to Damascus, there is agreement from the Syrian government for a ceasefire during the Eid,” he told a news conference.

“Other factions in Syria that we were able to contact – heads of fighting groups – most of them also agree on the principle of the ceasefire.”

Lakhdar Brahimi did not give a precise time period for the truce.

“If this humble initiative succeeds, we hope we can build on it in order to negotiate a longer and more effective halt of military operations, which could be a part of a comprehensive political process,” he added.

The Syrian foreign ministry subsequently issued a statement saying the government’s final decision would be taken on Thursday because the army command was still “studying the cessation of military operations”.

A ceasefire negotiated in April by Lakhdar Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, broke down within days and was followed by an escalation in the conflict.

Human rights and opposition activists estimate that more than 30,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.


International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has met Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the UN and the Arab League, is in Damascus to press both the government and the rebels to observe a truce over the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

On Friday, Lakhdar Brahimi met with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and opposition leaders.

There has been no sign of the violence abating, with an explosion reported in a Christian area of Damascus on Sunday.

The attack apparently targeted a police station in the Bab Touma district of the old city.

Unconfirmed reports say at least one person was killed and several injured.


Heavy clashes were also reported on the main road between Damascus and Aleppo on Saturday, particularly around the town of Maarat al-Numan.

The town has been in rebel hands for more than a week and is seen as strategically important to maintaining a supply route between Syria’s largest city Aleppo and the capital Damascus.

Civilians in Syria are desperate for a ceasefire but many doubt President Bashar al-Assad’s forces will agree.

A ceasefire that started on 12 April was soon broken and more violence prevailed.

Lakhdar Brahimi is calling for a ceasefire over the festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins on Friday and lasts over the weekend.

For much of the past 18 months, rebel groups have been fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government and at least 30,000 people are believed to have been killed.

Repeated efforts by the international community to find a diplomatic solution have foundered because of a deep divide at the UN Security Council.

In videos posted online, one rebel group said it was willing to respect a ceasefire given certain conditions, while other groups have not made a decision.