Sun, 24 Jan 2021

Suicide bomber devastates Afghan wedding, many casualties

By Jay Jackson, Ireland News.Net
18 Aug 2019, 13:02 GMT+10

KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber has detonated explosive devices at a wedding in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, causing widespread carnage.

"Everyone ran outside shouting and crying," Mohammad Farhag, a guest at the wedding, told the BBC.

"For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men's section is either dead or wounded. Now, two hours after the blast, they are still taking bodies out of the hall."

The Afghan Interior minsitry on Sunday confirmed the number of deaths was 63, while another 182 people have been wounded.

The explosion occurred around 22:40 local time on Saturday night at a wedding hall called Dubai City, in an area frequented by Shia Muslims in the western part of the capital.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, confirmed the explosion, and the casualty figures.

No group initially claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban issued a statement saying it was not responsible, with spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid saying the group condemns attacks on civilians. ISIS later issued a claim of responsibility.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) described the attack as a "cowardly act of terror."

Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan extended its condolences. "We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of innocent victims and pray for the maghfirah of the deceased and for early recovery of many others who were seriously injured in the attack," Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, said in a statement released on Sunday.

Saturday's suicide bombing comes at a time when the U.S. and the Taliban are said to be close to striking a deal which will see the former rulers of the country return to partial power, and U.S. forces leave the country.

A source familiar with the talks told Big News Network on Saturday, prior to this latest attack, talks to form a transitional government, underway in the Qatar capital Doha, are approaching finality. Any agreement will see the Taliban sharing power in the transitional government subject to disarmament and early elections. The U.S. is said to be keen to ensure democracy is preserved.

President Donald Trump is said to be keen to have U.S. troops withdrawn from the country the U.S. invaded in 2001, prior to the presidential election in November next year.

Saturday's deadly attack comes just ten days after a similar attack on a police station in Kabul which killed fourteen people, mostly young police recuits, and injured around 150.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

Saturday's bombing was preceded by the assassination of a Taliban official, the brother of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who died after a bomb exploded at a mosque near Quetta in Pakistan.

A source in Afghan intelligence told the BBC that Hibatullah Akhundzada had been due to attend prayers at the mosque and was probably the intended target.

(File photo. Credit EPA).

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