Kabul: At least seven civilians were killed and 15 others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a mosque in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, the interior ministry said.

The bomber attacked soon after prayers for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

“We strongly condemn this. This is yet another act of violence against civilians, on this important day," he said.

A file photo of Afghan, foreign soldiers with the NATO-ISAF taking position during a gun battle with militants in Herat, west of Kabul, 3 Nov 2011

Violence in the once-peaceful northern provinces has increased, with a series of high-profile attacks in the past year as insurgents seek to demonstrate their reach beyond the southern heartland.

Attacks have included the killing of seven UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif in April, and the assassination of the police chief for the north of the country earlier this year.

Despite the presence of more than 130,000 foreign soldiers across Afghanistan violence is at its worst since the start of the US- led military campaign in 2001, according to the United Nations.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says there has recently been a fall in the number of attacks by insurgents, but that data excludes attacks that kill only civilians, and attacks on Afghan security forces operating without international troops.