Wedding bloodbath defies peace talk

World | REUTERS 19 Aug 2019

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taleban agree a pact with the United States.

The Saturday night attack horror came as the Taleban and the United States are negotiating a deal on the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a Taleban commitment on security and peace talks with the Afghan government.

IS fighters are not involved in the talks.

In a statement on the messaging website Telegram, the group claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood.

President Ashraf Ghani, in comments on the blast before the IS claim, said the Taleban could not "absolve themselves of blame for they provide a platform for terrorists".

More than 180 people were wounded with many women and children among the casualties, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

The bride and groom survived the attack.

Mirwais, the groom, said a cousin and some friends had been killed. "I can't go to the funerals as I feel very weak. It won't be the last suffering for Afghans," he added.

The bride's father said 14 members of his family were killed.

Wedding halls have become a big business in Kabul as the Afghan economy slowly picks up and families spend more on celebrations, making them a target for bombers.

There has been no let-up in fighting and bomb attacks in Afghanistan over recent months despite the talks between the United States and the Taleban since late last year. Negotiators have reported progress after eight rounds of talks, but Afghans are skeptical about the effort amid the carnage.

Rada Akba spoke for many in saying: "Peace with whom? With those who bomb our weddings, schools, universities, offices and houses? Selling out this land and its people to those killers is sick and inhuman."

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