Bomb blast at Afghan religious gathering kills dozens

Bomb blast at Afghan religious gathering kills dozens
2 min read
20 November, 2018
A bomb has exploded in Kabul, killing at least 50 people, as a deadly insurgency continues to rock Afghanistan.
Kabul has been targeted by suicide bombers again [Getty-file photo]

At least 50 people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a meeting of top clerics in Kabul during a commemoration of the Prophet Muhammed's birthday, officials said on Tuesday.

It follows a wave of violence in Afghanistan aimed at religious leaders, government infrastructure, security forces and civilians.

At least 60 more people were wounded in the blast, health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said, following the attack on the wedding hall during the remembrance of the Prophet Muhammad.

"The suicide bomber detonated himself inside the hall during a ceremony by religious scholars," Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said, according to AFP.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the number of dead or wounded was "more than 50" so far.

The Uranus Wedding Palace also hosts political and religious functions, with a witness telling the news agency that the militant detonated his bomb belt amid a gathering of religious scholars. 

"There are a lot of casualties - I myself have counted 30 casualties," he told AFP.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group has carried out a number of suicide attacks in Kabul.

The Afghan capital has become the deadliest place in the country for civilians, following the IS attacks, which have made the country's Shia minority a particular target. 

Twin bock attacks targeted a wrestling club in September that killed at least 26 people.

October's parliamentary elections also saw hundreds killed or wounded in poll-related attacks.

It is not the first time that religious scholars have been targeted by militants in the deeply religious country. 

A group of leading Afghan clerics who met to proclaim suicide bombings a sin were targeted by a militant in June. 

The Taliban has also intensified its attacks on government forces, as the US pushes for a possible peace deal with the militants.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed hopes that the Taliban could agree to end hostilities in Afghanistan by the country's elections in April.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have underplayed the optimism of the US that a peace deal can be secured so soon.