At least 63 killed, 182 wounded in Kabul wedding blast

Afghan policemen stand guard outside the wedding hall after an explosion in Kabul Afghanistan Sunday Aug.18 2019

Afghan policemen stand guard outside the wedding hall after an explosion in Kabul Afghanistan Sunday Aug.18 2019

The death toll from a suicide bombing at a crowded wedding party in Afghanistan's capital is at least 63, including women and children, officials said Sunday, as Kabul reeled from its deadliest attack this year.

Worldwide reports say that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, after the SITE Intelligence Group, a group that monitors terrorist group activities discovered that a fighter detonated an explosive vest. He also confirmed that it was a suicide bombing.

At least 20 people were wounded in a blast at a Kabul wedding late Saturday, a local hospital said, while a witness told AFP he had seen many dead bodies at the scene.

The attack happened at about 10:40 p.m. local time on Saturday when a large explosion occurred in the male section of a wedding hall in western Kabul, where a wedding ceremony was taking place.

Another 182 people were wounded in the explosion, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said.

The Taliban denied involvement in that attack, and IS did not claim responsibility.

The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of USA forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's US-backed government.

No group has so far claimed that attack. "Everyone was lying all around the hall", said Ahmad Omid. "The Taliban can not absolve themselves of blame for they provide platform for terrorists", he said in a post on Twitter.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and overthrew the Taliban, as it accused the Middle Eastern country of harboring Al-Qaeda jihadists who claimed the September 11 attacks against the United States that killed almost 3,000 people.

Upon hearing the blast, he had rushed back inside the wedding hall to look for family members.

Months of U.S. -Taliban negotiations are nearing an agreement under which the U.S. would pull out half the estimated 20,000 worldwide troops in Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban pledges not to allow the country to harbor other Islamic extremist groups.

Workers of a wedding hall inspect after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan August 18, 2019. A deliberate attack on civilians "can only be described as a cowardly act of terror", United Nations envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said.

The U.S. envoy in the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Sunday that the peace process must be accelerated, including holding talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and other Afghans.

A Taliban spokesman said the group "strongly condemned" the attack. The attack targeted hundreds of Afghan Shias during the Ashura procession.

Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch responded on Twitter that the Taliban denial "highlights the fact that a U.S. -Taliban deal won't end attacks on Afghans".

Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said his government was waiting to hear results of President Donald Trump's meeting on Friday with his national security team about the negotiations.

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