An explosion has ripped through a wedding hall in the Afghan capital Kabul, wounding at least 20 people, a local hospital has said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which went off Saturday evening in the men’s reception area at the Dubai City wedding hall in western Kabul.
“Unfortunately, the blast caused civilian casualties,” ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. He put the number of wounded in the tens and said details were being gathered.
Rahimi said the blast occured around 10:40 pm (18:10 GMT). He shared on Facebook photos showing several bodies inside a dining area.
Witnesses said members of the minority Shia Muslim community were holding the wedding reception.
A young man looking for his five brothers after a blast in a wedding hall this late evening in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/acztiHWqLU
— Abdullah Khenjani (@AbdullahAzada) August 17, 2019
Aftermath of Kabul Explosion pic.twitter.com/5KhGgXQLa5
— Muslim Shirzad (@MuslimShirzad) August 17, 2019
Sunni Muslim armed groups including the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group have repeatedly attacked the Shia Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan over the years.
“Devastated by the news of a suicide attack inside a wedding hall in Kabul,” Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said in a Twitter post.
“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?!!”
Armed individuals and groups have periodically struck Afghan weddings, which are seen as “soft” targets with minimal security precautions.
Saturday’s explosion shattered more than a week of calm in the Afghan capital.
That blast and the one that happened on Saturday occurred on the same road.
The blast comes at a greatly uncertain time in Afghanistan as the US and the Taliban near a deal to end a nearly 18-year war, America’s longest conflict.