Afghan wedding suicide blast kills 63, wounds 182: ministry (UPDATED)

Afghan wedding suicide blast kills 63, wounds 182: ministry (UPDATED)

A suicide bomber killed 63 people and wounded 182 in an attack on a wedding reception in the Afghan capital on Saturday night, the interior ministry said, Trend reports citing Reuters.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the blast at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi’ite neighborhood, packed with people celebrating a marriage.

Women and children were among the casualties, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on Sunday.

The attack came as the Taliban and the United States are trying to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with the U.S.-backed government.

It follows a bomb attack on a mosque in Pakistan on Friday that killed a brother of Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. No one claimed responsibility for that blast, which killed four people and wounded about 20.

Pictures posted on social media showed bodies strewn amid overturned table and chairs at the wedding hall. The bomber struck the men’s reception area, officials said.

“Everybody was running,” a waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said after the blast.

“Several of our waiters were killed and wounded.”

Wedding halls have become a big business in Kabul as the Afghan economy slowly picks up and families spend more on celebrations.

At least 40 people were killed in an explosion at a wedding hall in Kabul in November.

02:55 (GMT+4) A bomb exploded at a wedding reception in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday night, wounding at least 20 people, officials and emergency services said, Trend reports citing Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which went off in the men’s reception area of a west Kabul wedding hall.

A Kabul emergency hospital said 20 wounded people had been brought in.

“Unfortunately, the blast caused civilian casualties,” Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. He put the number of wounded in the tens and said details were being gathered.

Witnesses said members of the minority Shi’ite Muslim community were holding the wedding reception. Sunni Muslim militants including the Taliban and Islamic State have repeatedly attacked the Shi’ite Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan over the years.

Three weeks ago, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 people and wounded 145, also in western Kabul, in an attack that the government said raised questions about the militants’ commitment to peace despite expectations of a deal with the United States.

The United States and Taliban insurgents have reported progress in talks on an agreement centered on a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for a security guarantee from the Taliban.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

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