(Reuters) Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghans began three days of mourning on Wednesday for 52 people, many of them children, killed in the country's worst suicide attack.
The blast, in the relatively peaceful north, has shaken public confidence in the ability of the government and the 50,000 foreign troops in the country to provide security more than six years after the Taliban were ousted from power.
"In the very miserable incident which took place yesterday, six of Afghanistan's hard-working, honest members of parliament were martyred, and Afghan people including school teachers, students and children were also martyred, and many were wounded," President Hamid Karzai told a news conference in Kabul.
The governor of Baghlan where the attack took place said the death toll had risen to 52 and about 100 people were wounded.
The Taliban have carried out more than 130 suicide bombings in Afghanistan so far this year, but the insurgents denied responsibility for Tuesday's attack on visiting parliamentarians as they were being greeted by schoolchildren and elders.
The bomber approached the parliamentary delegation on foot as children lined up to welcome them on a visit to a sugar factory in Baghlan. Large crowds had also turned out to see the deputies.
There were still pools of blood at the site on Wednesday morning as police collected body parts and put them in plastic bags. School notebooks and children's sandals lay strewn on the ground.
"We are treating the wounded and the condition of some is very critical," said Dr. Mohammad Rokai at the local hospital. "The dead and wounded are mostly children."