Bomber kills 63 people at Kabul wedding


182 wounded as IS claims responsibility; Pakistan condemns brutal attack
At least 63 people were killed and 182 wounded in an explosion targeting a wedding in the Afghan capital, authorities said on Sunday.The blast, which took place late on Saturday in west Kabul, came as Washington and the Taliban are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan.
The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agree a pact with the US.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shia neighbourhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of “infidels”.
The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for the Kabul attack and condemned it.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban could not escape blame for the “barbaric” suicide bomb attack. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame for they provide platform for terrorists,” Ghani said in a post on Twitter.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi provided the toll, which is the highest in Kabul in recent months. “Among the wounded are women and children,” Rahimi said.
Afghan weddings are epic and vibrant affairs, with hundreds or often thousands of guests celebrating inside industrial-scale wedding halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s attack images from inside the hall showed blood-stained bodies on the ground along with pieces of flesh and torn clothes, hats, sandals and bottles of mineral water. Mohammad Farhag, who had been at the wedding, told AFP he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge blast in the men’s area.
“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he said. “For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.”
Two hours after the blast, he said bodies were still being removed from the hall.
A mobile phone video which swiftly went viral shortly after the attack showed one man outside the hall with bloodstains on his clothes, his voice breaking as he explained he was searching for his brothers.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesperson, Pakistan condemned the attack.
“More than 60 innocent people have reportedly lost their lives in this dastardly inhuman act,” the statement read. While offering condolences to the families of the victims, the statement added: “Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorism is a common threat for the entire region and must be defeated together.”— AFP/AP

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