By RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
November 20, 2018
A suicide bombing at a large gathering of Afghan religious clerics in Kabul has killed at least 40 people, officials says.
Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majrooh told RFE/RL that another 60 people were wounded in the November 20 blast, which targeted a gathering at a wedding hall to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.
He said the number of dead and wounded was “more than 50” so far.
A manager of the hotel where the blast occurred told the AFP news agency that a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the gathering.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, one of the deadliest attacks to strike the Afghan capital in months.
The Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) militant groups have targeted Muslim religious scholars aligned with the Afghan government in the past.
Afghan security forces have struggled to counter attacks from the two groups since the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops in 2014. The remaining Western forces mainly train and advise the Afghan military, although some are still occasionally caught in firefights.
A local affiliate of the IS group claimed a suicide bombing in June that targeted a meeting of the country’s top religious body in the capital. That attack killed at least seven people, including several clerics.
The Afghan Ulema Council had issued a religious order, or fatwa, declaring suicide attacks forbidden, or “haram,” under the principles of Islam.
With reporting by AFP