Suicide bombers kill 40 at Shia centre in Afghan capital

Foreign Office denounces attack; expresses Pakistan's firm resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism


Reuters December 28, 2017
An Afghan man mourns inside a hospital compound after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL:


A suicide attack on an office of the Afghan Voice news agency and a neighboring Shia cultural centre in the capital Kabul killed dozens on Thursday, officials and witnesses said, with many of the victims students attending a conference.


Interior Ministry deputy spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said at least 40 people had been killed and 30 wounded in the blast, the latest in a series to have hit media organisations in Kabul.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, in an online statement carried by it's Amaq news agency. The suicide attack was carried out by one bomber wearing a vest and followed three other bomb blasts in the same area, the statement said. The agency offered no evidence for the claim of responsibility for the attack.

Kabul TV station says attack over, resumes broadcasting

The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Centre, with many of those attending students, witnesses said.

An Afghan man mourns inside a hospital compound after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS An Afghan man mourns inside a hospital compound after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 28, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Photographs sent by witnesses showed what appeared to be serious damage at the site, in a heavily Shia area in the west of the capital, and a number of dead and wounded on the ground.

Deputy Health Minister Feda Mohammad Paikan said 35 bodies had been brought into the nearby Istiqlal hospital. Television pictures showed many of the injured suffered serious burns.

President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesperson issued a statement calling the attack an “unpardonable” crime against humanity and pledging to destroy terrorist groups. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Twitter denying involvement.

The attack, the latest in a series to hit Afghan media groups in recent years, follows an attack on a private television station in Kabul last month.

PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: AFP

Backed by the heaviest US air strikes since the height of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces have forced the Taliban back in many areas and prevented any major urban centre from falling into the hands of insurgents.

But high-profile attacks in the big cities have continued as militants have looked for other ways to make an impact and undermine confidence in security. Islamic State, which is opposed to both the Taliban and the Western-backed government, has claimed a growing share of such attacks.

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“This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement from its South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik. “In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.”

According to a report this month by media freedom group Reporters without Borders, Afghanistan is among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers with two journalists and five media assistants killed doing their jobs in 2017, before Thursday’s attack.

Pakistan denounces attack

Pakistan has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks that shook Kabul today.

"We express our heartfelt condolences with the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones in these brutal terrorist attacks and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded," a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs stated.

"We express our solidarity with the government and the people of Afghanistan," it added.

Pakistan, the communique said, reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in its all forms and manifestations, and firm resolve to eradicate the menace.

COMMENTS (5)

Raw Is War | 3 years ago | Reply And Pakistanis wonder why Afghans hate them.
Pekhawar Khan | 3 years ago | Reply Very sad indeed.
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