KABUL, Afghanistan

Suicide bomber kills 23, injures dozens at wedding

A suicide bomber blew himself up among guests at a wedding hall Saturday in northern Afghanistan, killing 23 people including a prominent ex-Uzbek warlord-turned-lawmaker who was the father of the bride.

The attack was the latest to target top figures from the country’s minority groups and dealt a blow to efforts to unify ethnic factions amid growing concerns that the country could descend into civil war after foreign combat troops withdraw in 2014.

Ahmad Khan Samangani, an ethnic Uzbek who commanded forces fighting the Soviets in the 1980s and later became a member of parliament, was welcoming guests to his daughter’s wedding Saturday morning when the blast ripped through the building in Aybak, the capital of Samangan province.

Three Afghan security force officials also were among those killed. About 60 other people, including government officials, were wounded in the attack.

The bride and groom survived, but never got the chance to exchange vows.


U.N. sends investigators to site of latest massacre

U.N. observers investigated the latest reported massacre in Syria, entering a village Saturday where activists say regime forces killed dozens of people in the past week, as Turkey’s prime minister blasted Damascus’ leadership, warning that the Syrian people will “make them pay” for such mass killings.

An 11-vehicle team of observers went into the central village of Tremseh after receiving confirmation a cease-fire was in place, a spokesman for the U.N. mission in Syria, Ahmad Fawzi, said. It is the first outside look into the village where activists say at least 150 people were killed by government troops who shelled the town before moving in alongside pro-regime militiamen.

“We have sent a large integrated patrol today to seek verification of the facts,” Fawzi said.

Details of the killings remain unclear. The Syrian government says 50 people were killed in Tremseh Thursday when its forces clashed with “armed gangs” that were terrorizing village residents. The regime refers to its opponents as terrorists and gangsters. On Friday, the United Nations blamed government forces for the Tremseh assault, saying U.N. observers near the village saw government troops using heavy weaponry and attack helicopters against it.


Scientists probe deaths of 512 migrating penguins

Marine biologists and veterinarians say the bodies of 512 penguins have washed up on beaches in southern Brazil over the past week.

They said the Center of Coastal and Marine Studies is investigating what caused the deaths of the penguins found on beaches of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The cause of death should be known in about 30 days.

Calls to the center on Saturday went unanswered.

Biologists at the center said the penguins were migrating north from Argentina in search of food in warmer waters. They said the birds appeared well-fed, unhurt and without oil stains.

— From news service reports