A suicide bomber killed a prominent politician and 22 other guests at a wedding reception in the northern Afghan province of Samangan on Saturday, officials said.
Samangani was close to Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, and commanded thousands of men in the area. The Uzbeks are part of an uneasy coalition of minority tribes that fight the Taliban in their area.
The attack, among the most lethal in recent months, raises the risk of greater insecurity in the relatively peaceful province, analysts said.
At least 23 people were killed and 60 others wounded, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai condemning the attack.
"The enemies of Afghanistan once again targeted mujahideen figures who strive for national unity," Karzai said.
The wounded were in critical condition and the death toll could rise, said regional police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai.
Samangani had told guards at the party not to inconvenience guests with security searches, said provincial police chief Khalil Andarabi.
The Taliban denied responsibility.
"We don't have a hand in this," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. "Ahmad Khan (Samangani) was a former commander of the mujahideen, he was notorious and many people could have had problems with him."
Samangani, an ethnic Uzbek, fought against the Soviets in the 1980s, and against the Taliban during their 1996-2001 rule. He may have had enemies other than the Taliban, said Kabul-based political analyst Waheed Mujhda.
"Former warlords have frequently been targeted in the past," he said. "Ahmad Khan Samangani was a strongman in terms of security for Samangan province. His loss will certainly affect security in that region."
Witnesses described scenes of carnage.
"I saw parts of bodies, blood all over the reception," said Ahmad Jawed, a guest at the wedding. "Many wounded people were crying for help."
Another witness, Barat Khan, said: "It took some 15 minutes for the smoke to clear, then I saw bodies and pools of blood."
In a separate incident on Saturday, a police official was gunned down in the southern city of Kandahar, the governor's spokesman said.
On Friday, a car bomb killed a leading female politician, Hanifa Safi. No one has claimed responsibility.
President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday strongly condemned suicide attack at a wedding reception in Mazar-e -Sharif resulting in loss of precious lives and injuring many. President Zardari, in a condolence message to the members of the bereaved family, prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls. According to reports, death toll from the Saturday’s attack can be one of the lethal in Afghanistan during last many months. The President, in his message, also expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives of innocent people. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant fortitude to the bereaved families to bear the irreparable loss.