Wednesday 18 September 2019

Carnage as Isil suicide bomber kills 63 guests at packed wedding feast

Destruction: The wedding hall in Kabul after the suicide bomber struck. Photo: Getty Images
Destruction: The wedding hall in Kabul after the suicide bomber struck. Photo: Getty Images

Ben Farmer

An ISIL suicide bomber killed at least 63 people and wounded scores more when he detonated explosives in crowds at a wedding feast in Kabul, in the deadliest attack in Afghanistan this year.

The scale of the carnage in a western Shia district of the Afghan capital was met with shock in a city frequently hit by suicide attacks. It underlined fears that a peace deal between America and the Taliban will not end the violence.

The US called the bombing "an act of extreme depravity", while the Taliban - which has itself regularly killed civilians in indiscriminate bombings - said it was barbaric.

The bomber, called Abu Assim al Pakistani, blew himself up after infiltrating a gathering of "infidels", according to the Afghan branch of Isil. Afghan Shia Muslims have repeatedly been hit by the group.

The blast tore through crowds of well-wishers and relatives, the groom told a local television station. He had welcomed guests to the venue called the Dubai City wedding hall, only to see their bodies being carried back out hours later.

The attack "changed my happiness to sorrow", said the young man, who gave his name as Mirwais.

"My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting," he said. "I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again."

President Ashraf Ghani condemned "the inhumane attack". He added: "My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack."

He said the Taliban movement fighting his government "cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide [a] platform for terrorists".

US and Taliban envoys have been working to reach a deal that will see US troops withdraw and the Taliban give guarantees Afghanistan will not become a haven for transnational terrorist groups such as al-Qa'ida.

Saturday night's blast underlined how difficult that might be, with the local branch of Isil still controlling a foothold in eastern Afghanistan.

Kabul's wedding halls hold lavish celebrations and guest lists can run to more than a thousand. Several have been bombed in recent years and they have come to be seen as soft targets.

Pictures of the aftermath the blast showed bodies strewn among overturned chairs and tables. "The wedding guests were dancing and celebrating the party when the blast happened," said guest Munir Ahmad (23).

At least 185 people were wounded, including many women and children.

Irish Independent

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