Suicide bomber strikes Afghan mosque, kills at least 20; al-Qaida blamed

A suicide bomb tore through a mosque in southern Afghanistan during the funeral Wednesday of a moderate Muslim cleric, killing at least 20 people including the Kabul police chief, and the local governor said an Arab al-Qaida militant was responsible.

At least 42 people were wounded.

The attack - which came on the heels of a major upsurge in rebel violence in recent months including assassinations, almost daily clashes with rebels and the kidnapping of an Italian aid worker - further raised fears that militants here are copying the tactics of insurgents in Iraq.

The rebels themselves have suffered a heavy price - losing about 200 men according to American and Afghan officials - but the drumbeat of attacks has belied U.S. claims that it is stabilizing the country, nearly four years after driving the Taliban from power.

Kandahar Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai said the suicide bomber's body had been found, and that he was part of Osama bin Laden's terror network.

"The attacker was a member of al-Qaida. We have found documents on his body that show he was an Arab," Sherzai told reporters.

NOOR KHAN, Associated Press Writer

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