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Suicide Bombing of Wedding Party in Kabul Killed 63

By Ayaz Gul August 18, 2019

The Islamic State group's Afghan branch has claimed responsibility for the wedding bombing in Kabul that killed at least 63 and wounded at least 183.

The victims of the overnight suicide bombing at a packed wedding hall were mostly members of the minority Shi'ite Hazara community.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll in a statement issued early Sunday, saying women and children were among the victims.

The United Nations denounced the wedding hall bombing as an "atrocious" act against Afghan Shi'ites, saying it has documented several previous attacks aimed at the community. "An attack deliberately targeting civilians is an outrage, and deeply troubling, as it can only be described as a cowardly act of terror," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the U.N. Assistance mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

U.S. ambassador to Kabul John Bass in a tweet condemned the carnage as an act of "extreme depravity."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the overnight attack as an "inhumane" act, saying he has summoned an "extraordinary" security meeting to review and prevent such security lapses.

The attack was one of the worst against Afghan civilians in recent years.

The Taliban condemned the bombing. A spokesman for the insurgent group said "such barbaric deliberate attacks against civilians including women and children are forbidden and unjustifiable."

"Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists," Ghani noted in his statement issued Sunday.

Survivors said hundreds of guests were inside the hall when the blast occurred.

"I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast, and then I couldn't find anyone. Everyone was lying all around the hall," said Ahmad Omid.

The blast occurred near the stage where musicians were and ``all the youths, children and all the people who were there were killed,'' witness Gul Mohammad said. One of the wounded, Mohammad Toofan, said that ``a lot of guests were martyred.''

The bride's father told TOLO television station that 14 members of his family were killed in the bombing of his daughter's wedding and three were still missing.

"I know that this will not be the last suffering for Afghans. This suffering will continue. This will not be the last incident to happen against innocent people," the groom, identified as Mirwais, told the private Afghan news station.

Separately, a roadside bomb hit a civilian vehicle Sunday in the northern province of Balkh, killing at least eleven people.

Mohammad Yousaf, the head of Dawlat Abad district where the early morning incident took place, told VOA women and children were among the victims.

"Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists," Ghani noted in his statement issued Sunday.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict in Afghanistan, where more than 1,500 were killed or wounded in July alone, according to the United Nations.

U.S.-Taliban talks

The attack in Kabul came as the United States and the Taliban are closing in on an agreement to end a nearly 18-year war – America's longest conflict.

The Afghan government has been excluded from those negotiations, and presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said Saturday that his government was waiting to hear results of President Donald Trump's meeting Friday with his national security team about the discussions.

Among the key issues are the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Taliban vows not to let Afghanistan become a launching pad for global terror attacks.

Seddiqi said that the Afghan government expects the deal will result in cessation of Taliban-led violence, and direct negotiations between Kabul and the insurgent group.

The Taliban, however, maintains it will discuss a cease-fire and other domestic political issues in intra-Afghan negations once the United States announces the troop withdrawal timetable.

Last year, more than 3,800 civilians, including more than 900 children, were killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, U.S. and allied forces, the Islamic State affiliate and other actors, the United Nations said.

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