63 killed, 182 injured in Kabul wedding blast
Published: 10:10 AM, 18 August 2019 Updated: 01:10 PM, 18 August 2019
At least 63 people were killed and 182 others injured as a suicide-bomb blast ripped through a wedding party in Afghanistan's capital Kabul on a busy Saturday night, the interior ministry said.
Women and children were among the casualties, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on Sunday, hours after the massive blast.
The spokesman said the blast occurred in a west Kabul wedding hall around 10:40 pm (1810 GMT). He shared on Facebook photos showing several apparent bodies inside a dining area.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which went off in the men's reception area of a west Kabul wedding hall. However, the Taliban denied responsibility for the blast.
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.
Mohammad Farhag, who had been at the wedding, said 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. Now, two hours after the blast, they are still taking bodies out of the hall."
Insurgents have periodically struck Afghan weddings, which are seen as easy targets because they frequently lack rigorous security precautions.
On July 12, at least six people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a wedding ceremony in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The Islamic State group, which has a growing footprint in the region, claimed the blast.
Expectations are rising for a deal in which the US would start withdrawing its approximately 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan after a two-decade war that has turned into a stalemate.
In return for the US departure, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harboured Al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to once again become a jihadist safe haven.
On Friday, Ahmadullah Azkhundzada, brother of Afghan Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, was among four people killed in a blast at a mosque in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan, a senior official with the provincial government said.
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