Rocket kills 26 at Afghan wedding party

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KABUL: A rocket fired amid fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan soldiers killed at least 26 people at a nearby wedding party Thursday, authorities said, a grim end to a year that saw the end of the 13-year US-led combat mission there.

The rocket struck a house in southern Helmand province’s Sangin District, where Afghan security forces have been battling insurgents in the six months since US forces withdrew from the area.

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Police spokesman Fareed Ahmad Obaid said the rocket wounded at least 45 people. Bashir Ahmad Shakir, a provincial council member, said the death toll could be up to 30 killed with as many as 60 wounded.

Abdul Haleem, a cousin of the bride who was hosting her wedding, said that nine of his children were missing after the rocket struck his house as guests waited outside for the bride to arrive. “Nine children of mine are missing; I just collected body parts,” he said.

“I don’t know whether it’s my children or someone else.”

Wednesday marked the final day of the US and Nato’s combat mission, which began with the invasion that overthrew the Taliban after the Sept 11 attacks.

This year was the deadliest of the war for government forces and civilians, with around 5,000 Afghan soldiers and police killed, officials have said. An estimated 10,000 civilians have been killed or wounded, the highest annual toll since the UN started keeping figures in 2008.

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