Scores dead after suicide bomber targets Kabul Shia area
At least nine people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shia area of Kabul on Friday, officials said, as militants dial up pressure on the war-weary Afghan capital.
The attack took place near a high-profile gathering to mark the 23rd anniversary of the death of Abdul Ali Mazari - a prominent former leader of the mainly Shia Hazara ethnic community who was killed by the Taliban.
The event was attended by some of the country's top politicians, including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and his deputy Mohammad Mohaqiq, a senior Hazara figure.
"The death toll has gone up to nine," deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP, adding 18 others were wounded.
Among the dead were two policemen, he said. The rest were civilians. Officials said the attacker was on foot.
Afghan officials gave a wide range of figures for the number of casualties: a security source told AFP 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded.
But Kabul police chief Mohammad Daud Amin told Tolo News that five people were killed and 22 others wounded.
Amin said the bomber detonated his explosive device at a checkpoint "after being identified by police".
"The bomber failed to get inside to target the gathering," he said.
Kazim Ali, who was at the gathering, told AFP the force of the explosion shattered the windows of the mosque.
"We were inside the mosque when a loud explosion took place. Security forces didn't allow us to move afterwards," he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast but the Islamic State militant group typically targets Shias who it regards as apostates.
The third suicide attack in the city in a fortnight comes as the Taliban face growing pressure to take up the Afghan government's recent offer of peace talks to end a more than 16-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
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