Massive Blast Hits Kabul Wedding, At Least 20 Wounded
At least 20 people were wounded in a blast at a Kabul wedding hall late Saturday, a local hospital said, as a government official circulated images showing what appeared to be many dead bodies.
The explosion comes just as the US and the Taliban are widely expected to sign off on a deal that would see American troops begin to depart Afghanistan in return for various security assurances from the Taliban.
“#Kabul #Afghanistan explosion in a hotel during a wedding party, about 20 patients arrived up to now at our hospital #masscasualty,” the Italian-run Emergency hospital of Kabul said on Twitter.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the blast occurred in a west Kabul wedding hall around 10:40 pm (1810 GMT).
He shared on Facebook photos showing several apparent bodies inside a dining area.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Afghan weddings are an epic and vibrant affair, with hundreds or often thousands of guests celebrating inside industrial-scale wedding halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children.
Insurgents have periodically struck Afghan weddings, which are seen as “soft” targets with minimal security precautions.
On July 12, at least six people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a wedding ceremony in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The Islamic State group, which is present in the region, claimed the blast.
Expectations are rising for a deal in which the US would start withdrawing its approximately 14,000 soldiers from Afghanistan after a two-decade war that has turned into a stalemate.
US President Donald Trump has said since the start of his presidency that he wants troops out of the country, where Washington has spent more than $1 trillion.
In return for the US departure, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harboured Al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to once again become a jihadist safe haven.
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