Kabul, Afghanistan — The death toll from a late-nightin the Afghan capital rose to at least 63 on Sunday, including women and children, officials said. The local Islamic State (IS) group’s affiliate claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year.
Another 182 people were wounded in the Saturday night explosion, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said. Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll as families began to bury the dead. Some helped to dig graves with their bare hands.
Kabul residents were outraged as there appears to be no end to violence even as the U.S. and the Taliban say they are nearing a deal to end their 18-year conflict, America’s longest war.
The Taliban condemned the attack as “forbidden and unjustifiable” and denied any involvement. Both the Taliban and IS have carried large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.
The blast occurred in a western Kabul neighborhood that is home to many of the country’s minority Shiite Hazara community. IS has claimed responsibility for many attacks targeting Shiites in the past. A statement by the militant group posted on an IS-linked website on Sunday said a Pakistani IS fighter seeking martyrdom targeted a large Shiite gathering in Kabul.
The statement also claimed that after the suicide bombing, a car bomb was detonated in the attack but Afghan officials have not confirmed this.
The bomber detonated his explosives near the stage where musicians were playing and “all the youths, children and all the people who were there were killed,” said eyewitness Gul Mohammad.
Ahmad Omid, a survivor, said about 1,200 guests had been invited to the wedding of 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,” he said. “Everyone was lying all around the hall.”
Amid the carnage were blood-covered chairs, crushed music speakers and a pile of abandoned shoes.
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