KABUL — A suicide bomber killed more than 60 people and wounded scores, including women and children, as they celebrated a wedding in the Afghan capital, authorities said Sunday, the deadliest attack in Kabul in recent months.
The blast, which took place late Saturday in the city’s west, came as Washington and the Taliban are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan.
The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said at least 63 people had been killed and 182 injured. “Among the wounded are women and children,” Rahimi said. Earlier he stated that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber.
Afghan weddings are epic and vibrant affairs, with hundreds or often thousands of guests celebrating for hours inside industrial-scale wedding halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s attack images from inside the hall showed blood-stained bodies on the ground along with pieces of flesh and torn clothes, hats, sandals and bottles of mineral water.
The wedding was believed to be a Shia gathering. Shia Muslims are frequently targeted in Sunni-majority Afghanistan, particularly by the so-called Islamic State group, which is also active in Kabul but did not immediately issue any claim of responsibility.
Mohammad Farhag, who had been at the wedding, told AFP 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.”
A mobile phone video which swiftly went viral shortly after the attack showed one man outside the hall with bloodstains on his clothes, his voice breaking as he explained he was searching for his brothers. AFP