Kabul explosion: At least 50 dead and 80 injured in suicide blast at religious gathering in Afghanistan capital

Attack appears to target Muslim clerics marking birthday of Prophet Muhammad at event in wedding hall

Tom Barnes
Tuesday 20 November 2018 16:27 GMT
Men help one of the injured after the blast in a large wedding hall
Men help one of the injured after the blast in a large wedding hall (Reuters)

At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber targeted a group of Muslim religious scholars in Kabul, officials in Afghanistan say.

Hundreds of clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad at a large wedding hall in the capital before the blast happened, interior ministry spokesperson Najib Danish said.

Wahi Majroh, of Afghanistan’s public health ministry, said another 83 people had been wounded by the bomber.

“The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,” said Basir Mujahid, spokesperson for the Kabul police chief.

He said police had not been asked to provide security for the event and the bomber had easily slipped into the hall.

No groups immediately admitted carrying out the attack, but both the Taliban and a local Isis affiliate have targeted religious scholars aligned to the government in the past.

Isis claimed it was behind a suicide bombing in June at a meeting of the country’s top clerics in the capital.

The attack killed at least seven people and wounded 20 others.

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The body of religious leaders targeted, the Afghan Ulema Council, had issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks.

Isis said it was committed to attacking “tyrant clerics” who side with the US-backed Afghan government.

The Taliban denied involvement in the June bombing, but had condemned the meeting of clerics.

Both militant groups want to overthrow the Afghan government and impose a harsh form of Islamic rule, but are bitterly divided over leadership and ideology. They have clashed on a number of occasions.

Additional reporting by agencies

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