Suicide bomber kills 63, injures scores in Kabul wedding
Bomb blast in Kabul wedding ceremony has left over 163 dead and at least 182 injured, government source said.
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Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualties and said the blast took place at a wedding hall in the west of Kabul late Saturday.
"Among the wounded are women and children," Rahimi said.
In a statement, the Taliban militant group denied responsibility for the explosion at the wedding hall, which was located in a minority Shia neighborhood and packed with people celebrating a marriage.
"Everyone ran outside shouting and crying," a witness said. "For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men's section is either dead or wounded."
Sources said the injured were taken to hospital for treatment and that the death toll may increase as many of those wounded are in critical conditions.
In several tweets, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the "inhumane" bomb attack and said, “Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists.”
In the northern province of Balkh, 11 Afghan civilians were killed on Sunday when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle.
"The vehicle was hit by a powerful bomb, even we cannot recognize the victims. Eleven civilians, five of them members of one family, were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Dawlat Abad District in Balkh province today," said Muhammad Yusuf, the district governor.
Local police confirmed the bombing and said the bomb had been placed by the Taliban militants.
The attacks came as the Taliban and the united States are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan.
The possible agreement is to be reached in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with the Afghan government.
The Afghan president, whose administration has been left out of the talks, said last week that only Afghans had to decide their fate, and not outside powers even if they were allies. The president said peace was only possible with an agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Taliban militant group, which now controls or has influence in about half of Afghanistan’s territory, has held several rounds of direct talks with US officials in the Qatari capital since October. The militants say they do not recognize the government in Kabul.
The ongoing negotiations take place nearly 18 years after the US military invaded Afghanistan to overthrow a ruling Taliban regime.
About 20,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, are based in Afghanistan. The exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan is a condition set by the Taliban to extend the talks.