World

Bomb kills 63 at wedding in Kabul

Burials are taking place in the Afghan capital, Kabul after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and wounding more than 180.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind for the attack.

The blast happened on Saturday during a wedding ceremony at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT).

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric”. He blamed the Taliban for “providing a platform to terrorists.”

The Taliban has denied involvement and condemned the attack.

An IS statement said that one of its fighters blew himself up at a “large gathering” while others “detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle” when emergency services arrived.

The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll hours later. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall amid overturned chairs and tables.

Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.

The groom who gave his name as Mirwais told local TV: “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting.

“I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”

“I can’t go to the funerals, I feel very weak … I know that this won’t be the last suffering for Afghans, the suffering will continue,” he said.

The bride’s father told local media that 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.

Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area.

“Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he told AFP news agency.

“For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded.”

A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said “everybody was running” after the blast.

“Several of our waiters were killed or wounded,” he added.

Writing on Twitter, President Ashraf Ghani said he had called a security meeting to “review and prevent such security lapses.”

The explosion took place in the west of the city, mostly populated by Shia Muslims.

Sunni Muslim militants, including the Taliban and the Islamic State group, have repeatedly targeted Shia Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman said the group “strongly condemned” the attack. –BBC

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