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12 die in Afghan mosque explosion

The dead included 8 Taliban insurgents who planted the explosives.

KABUL - A blast during Friday-night prayers in a mosque in central Afghanistan killed 12 people, eight of them Taliban insurgents, officials said Saturday.

The insurgents placed explosives in a corner of the mosque, in Ghazni province's Andar district, before joining worshipers, according to Qasim Deswal, a local official. They had been passing the village, carrying the explosives they routinely use for roadside-bomb and suicide attacks against Afghan and NATO targets when they stopped at the mosque, Deswal said.

"We have a number of wounded people, too, from this explosion, some in critical condition," he said.

Also Saturday, a would-be suicide bomber in the capital, Kabul, died when his explosives-rigged vest detonated early, the Associated Press reported police as saying.

The mosque explosion in Ghazni came on the same day as an attack by another group of insurgents, including suicide bombers, on a police compound and a guesthouse used by foreigners in the heart of Kabul.

In addition to the six assailants, four others, including a Nepalese guard at the guesthouse, were killed in that attack, which lasted for hours. Several expatriate officials of the International Organization for Migration were wounded, the United Nations said.

The Taliban used rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, and assault rifles in the attack, which took place less than a mile from the Interior Ministry. Hashmat Stanikzai, a police official, said the attackers used a car bomb at the start of the raid and that all of them wore burqas, the Islamic dress commonly used by women in Afghanistan.

"We had to pull out our family members from the area because of continued gun battles and at times successive explosions," resident Shah Maluk said.