Families bury their dead after wedding attack

Afghan policemen stand guard outside the wedding hall after an explosion in Kabul Afghanistan on August 18. — AP

Afghan policemen stand guard outside the wedding hall after an explosion in Kabul Afghanistan on August 18. — AP

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". He blamed the Taliban for "providing a platform to terrorists".

His white clothes were stained with the blood of bodies he had helped carry from the hall, its walls streaked with shrapnel holes and chairs torn to shreds.

Afghan weddings often take place in large halls where men are segregated from the women and children.

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"I won't ever be able to forget this, however much I try", the groom, Mirwais Elmi, told the TOLOnews channel.

"I was supposed to return happy, but within span of two hours, they devastated my whole life".

"I can't go to the funerals, I feel very weak ..."

"It would be better if I had died", he said. His bride survived, he said, but lost 14 members of her family. One of the wounded, Mohammad Toofan, said that "a lot of guests were martyred".

"Everyone ran outside shouting and crying", he told AFP news agency. The year before, the group bombed a Hazara-led protest, leaving more than 80 dead and hundreds wounded.

A waiter at the hall, Sayed Agha Shah, said "everybody was running" after the blast.

"Several of our waiters were killed and wounded".

"Taliban can not absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists", he said.

About 20 people were taken to a Kabul hospital run by the Italian NGO Emergency, the organization said. Another Taliban statement marking independence says to "leave Afghanistan to the Afghans".

The spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, denied involvement in Saturday's attack, which he called "cruel and brutal".

Among the victims were women and children, spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Despite the negotiations, the Taliban has continued to engage in attacks.

The blast follows a bomb attack on a mosque in Pakistan on Friday that killed a brother of Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Mayhem from Afghanistan s war continues to wreak havoc on Afghans every day, even though the U.S. and the Taliban are in final negotiations for a deal that would see USA troops begin to quit Afghanistan and could potentially lead to a reduction in violence.

Amid raging conflict across the country, traditional wedding parties have been an escape for the war-weary Afghans giving them some rare moments of happiness.

Taliban and U.S. representatives have been holding talks in Qatar's capital, Doha, and both sides have reported progress.

In the speech, Ghani did not refer to negotiations between the United States and the Taliban on a deal by which US troops can withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

In their almost yearlong negotiations with the US, the Taliban want the approximately 20,000 USA and allied forces to withdraw from the country.

Last month, after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted he will do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war. "We can probably make it a little bit smaller and then we'll decide", he said, adding: "It'll depend on the Taliban, it'll depend on the Afghan government".

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