Fears of many deaths after bomb explodes at Kabul wedding

Cheryl Sanders
August 18, 2019

Afghan officials say a suicide-bomb blast killed 63 people and wounded 182 more at a wedding hall in Kabul during a reception late on August 17.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the blast was caused by a bomb that went off in the men's reception area of the wedding hall on Kabul's west side. Sunni Muslim militants including the Taliban and Islamic State have repeatedly attacked the Shi'ite Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan over the years. He did not explain further.

"Around 1200 guests were invited to the wedding", said Ahmad Omid, a survivor who said the gathering was for his father's cousin. "I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn't find anyone". Under the expected deal, the Taliban, in exchange for a USA commitment on a withdrawal, would guarantee Afghanistan would not be a sanctuary for militants to expand and plot new attacks, both sides have said.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the Taliban denied any involvement in the bombing.

"I saw many women and children screaming and crying", he said. "A heinous crime against our people; how is it possible to train a human and ask him to go and blow himself (up) inside a wedding?!"

Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said his government was waiting to hear results of President Donald Trump's meeting on Friday with his national security team about the negotiations. Pictures on social media showed bodies strewn across the wedding hall.

Kabul's huge, brightly lit wedding halls are centers of community life in a city tired of decades of war, with thousands of dollars spent on a single evening.

Saturday's explosion shattered more than a week of calm in the Afghan capital.

The explosion came a few days after the Eid al-Adha ended, a Muslim holiday, and just before Afghanistan's 100th independence day.

Tensions in the country have been high even though the Taliban and the United States, which has thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, are reportedly close to announcing a peace deal.

Afghanistan has been plagued by tensions and violence even as the Taliban and the U.S. - which has thousands of troops stationed there - are reportedly working on a peace deal.

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