Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Islamic clerics attacked in Kabul bombing, over 50 killed

By Sheetal Sukhija, The Tampa News.Net
21 Nov 2018, 05:02 GMT+10

KABUL, Afghanistan - In a brazen terror attack targeting Islamic religious scholars in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a gathering of clerics in the capital. 

In the attack on Tuesday, government officials in Kabul said that the suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a large banqueting hall near the airport, killing over 50 people and leaving more than 83 others injured.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told reporters that the attacker blew himself up inside the Uranus wedding hall, which is a massive complex near the Kabul Airport. 

Danish said, "A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a wedding hall where Islamic religious scholars had gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad's birth."

Following the attack, the Kabul police and emergency services rushed to the scene to deal with the incident and rescue those injured in the bombing. 

According to officials, about 1,000 people were believed to be inside the complex at the time of the explosion and the local police said that the suicide bomber detonated explosives right at the center of the wedding hall. 

Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police said in a statement, "Hundreds of Islamic scholars and their followers had gathered to recite verses from the holy Quran to observe the Eid Milad-un-Nabi festival at the private banquet hall."

Further, reports quoted officials from Kabul's Emergency Hospital as saying that 30 ambulances had been deployed to the blast site.

Hospital authorities confirmed that they were treating more than 40 people that had suffered critical injuries in the bombing.

The local media in Afghanistan broadcast images from the scene, which showed broken glass, overturned furniture and threads of blood-stained clothes lying around inside the hall.

Mujahid added, "The victims of the attack, unfortunately, are all religious scholars."

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blast, that comes at a time when the country is suffering an unprecedented level of casualties in the 17-year-old war. 

In recent months, Afghanistan has faced an increased spate of attack claimed by both, the local Islamic State (ISIS) wing in the country and the Taliban insurgents. 

Earlier this month, the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani revealed that the death toll among Afghan soldiers and police is nearing 30,000 since the start of 2015 - a figure that is believed to be far higher than anything previously acknowledged by the country's government.

According to officials, the spate of attacks has turned deadlier since 2014, when NATO formally ended combat operations in the country. 

Tuesday's attack was said to be one of the deadliest attacks in Kabul in recent months

Commenting on the bombing, the Afghan President condemned the "terrorist attack," and declared Wednesday a day of national mourning.

Ghani instructed officials that the flag would be flown at half mast.

Further, the UN mission in Afghanistan tweeted in response to the incident and expressed its outrage.

The UNAMAnews tweeted, "UNAMA outraged by #Kabul bombing when communities across #Afghanistan are marking day of special religious significance. Credible reports of heavy civilian casualties. UN human rights teams establishing facts. UN family extends deepest condolences to the many families affected."

The bombing was also condemned by the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who called it a "cowardly act of terrorism."

The attack came a day after Taliban leaders in Qatar ended a three-day meeting with the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad to discuss an end to the 17 year long war.

The meeting ended with no agreement between the two sides and Khalilzad managed to anger the group by issuing a statement saying the Taliban believe they will "not win militarily."

Further, the U.S. special envoy has also declared a deadline of April 2019 to end the war in Afghanistan - a date that coincides with the crucial Presidential election in the country. 

Apart from Taliban's near-daily attacks in the country, Afghanistan has also suffered several deadly attacks by the ISIS group, known as the Islamic State Khorasan.

In June this year, ISIS claimed a suicide bombing that targeted a meeting of the country's top clerics from the Afghan Ulema Council in the capital.

The attack left at least seven people dead and 20 others injured.

Later on Tuesday night, Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujeed denied the group's involvement in the Kabul attack.

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