HERAT (AFP) - A suicide bomber apparently wearing a burqa blew up in a busy bazaar in southwestern Afghanistan Thursday, killing 16 people, officials said, as eight rebels died elsewhere in the country. The extremist Taliban movement, which regularly uses suicide attacks in its campaign against the government, immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in Farah province's Delaram district. Police were the target, Farah deputy governor Mohammad Younus Rasouli said, adding four of the dead were police officers, targeted in a crowded bazaar. "Twelve civilians have been killed and 22 others wounded. Four police have been killed and six others wounded," he told AFP. Rasouli said the body of the bomber was destroyed. "But we have found pieces of women's dress, shoes and a burqa," he said. The interior ministry in Kabul gave a lower death toll, saying seven civilians and five policemen were killed. The police chief for southwestern Afghanistan, Ikramuddin Yawar, also said investigations had shown the bomber was wearing a burqa. "The bomber wore a burqa, which indicates it might be a woman," he said. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, calling it an act of a "coward", his office said in a statement. It also said the bomber wore a burqa and woman's dress. If confirmed the bomber was female, it would be the first known suicide attack carried out by a woman. Male attackers have sometimes worn burqas as a disguise. Juma Khan, an official in the provincial police department said women and children were also probably killed in the blast. "The bombing was in a crowded bazaar. We think there might be women and children among the casualties," he told AFP. Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said a member of his organisation - whom he identified as a man named Khalid - carried out the bombing, which he said killed a dozen police and was aimed at police commander. Ahmadi's account could not be independently verified as the rebel spokesman has in the past made exaggerated or false claims.