Afghan official says bomb kills provincial council member

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed a provincial council member in northeast Kunar province, while a daylong gun battle in neighboring Badakhshan province left four civilians dead and another eight wounded, Afghan officials said Friday.

Kunar provincial council member Shahwali Hemat was on his way to a local cemetery to attend a funeral Friday when a suicide bomber approached him and exploded his device, Kunar Police Chief spokesman Farid Dihqan told The Associated Press. A second person was also killed in the explosion and another one was wounded. No one immediately took responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban are active in Kunar province.

Also hiding in Kunar province's towering mountains are members of Pakistan's militant Tehrik-e-Taliban, who fled a Pakistan military operation in the Swat Valley and found refuge in Kunar's rugged terrain. Among the Pakistani militants hiding in Afghanistan's Kunar province is Mullah Fazlullah, the Taliban leader who is believed to have masterminded the attack on Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, the young Nobel laureate and champion of girls' education worldwide. Yousafzai is in Pakistan on her first visit home since the shooting in 2012.

Pakistan and Afghanistan routinely accuse each other of harboring the other's militant enemies.

Also on Friday, Asadullah Mujadedi, a district police chief in northern Badakhshan Province, said four civilians were killed and another eight wounded during a gun battle between Afghan security forces and the Taliban.

Mujadedi said the battle broke out after security forces launched a clean-up operation in Badakhshan's Jurm district.

Armed with mortars and machine guns, the Taliban fired from inside houses in a blistering battle that lasted throughout the day Thursday.

A statement from the Taliban on Friday claimed significantly more civilians were killed in the firefight and blamed the government for their deaths.

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