KABUL -- A teenage suicide bomber left a gruesome scene after he killed at least nine people and wounded another 30 when he blew himself up in a crowded bazaar in northwest Afghanistan Friday.
Police Chief Khalil Andarabi said the attack was targeted at the head of the Faryab provincial council, Mullah Rahmatullah Turkistani.
Turkistani regularly visits the bazaar in the Khwaja Sabz Post district on Fridays to hear concerns of the citizens. He also dines at a local restaurant. Turkistani was wounded in the blast.
"Witnesses told police that they saw a teenage boy walking in the bazaar," Andarabi said. "He had a book in his hands and sometimes he was reading. He was probably waiting for his target to come."
Once Turkistani arrived the teen walked toward him and detonated his cache of explosives. The blast killed an Afghan policeman and eight civilians, and wounded 30 more, Andarabi said.
The bomber was identified by witnesses through his body parts found at the scene.
The attack was condemned as as "anti-Islamic" act by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai stressed that the attack would not stop the government's efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The scene, as described by the Associated Press Television, was gruesome. It showed yellow and red apples pockmarked with shrapnel lying in pools of blood and a man's shoe, the AP reported.
Turkistani's pickup truck took the blunt of the blast. It was pitted with holes and body parts of the bomber lay on a blanket nearby. Victims' bodies were removed from the scene by ambulance workers.
Attacks in the north and west of the country are not militarily significant but they do show that tensions and violence is on the rise across wide swaths of Afghanistan, even as the U.S. and its allies mount a major effort to turn the tide of the nearly 9-year-old war in the south, the AP reported.
The Taliban also has a presence in southern parts of the country.
NATO said three of its service members were killed on Friday - two service members were killed by insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan and a third in the east.
The deaths bring the total number of NATO fatalities in Afghanistan this year to 615.
The AP reported that insurgent attacks in Afghanistan have been steadily increasing this year, said analyst Sami Kovanen of Kabul-based Indicium Consulting, a security analysis firm.
Earlier this year, attacks were up by 40 per cent, he said. That rose to 80 per cent over the summer, he said, adding that attacks since Sept. 18 parliamentary elections are up 120 per cent compared to the same period last year.