A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Saturday night at a crowded wedding party in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blast killed at least 63 people, including women and children, and another 182 were injured.
The Taliban, which is negotiating an end to an 18-year conflict with the United States, condemned the violence and denied any involvement. "The attack on the wedding hall is a brutal act," Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, said. "The Islamic Emirate condemns it in the strongest terms. We share the sorrow of the people."
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, on the other hand, was not ready to rid them of responsibility. In a tweet expressing condolences to the victims, Ghani wrote that the "Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists."
The attack occurred in a neighborhood in the western part of the city that is home to many of the country's Shiite Hazara community. ISIS, whose members follow Sunni doctrine, have frequently claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Shiites. The militant group's statement said a Pakistani ISIS fighter seeking martyrdom targeted the gathering.
Twin suicide explosions killed at least 25 people and seriously wounded 49 others in Kabul on Monday morning, and a few hours later, 11 children were killed in a suicide blast in Kandahar. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the first two suicide bombings, the first one outside the National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence service and the second one from an assailant pretending to be a journalist and mingling with the reporters who rushed to cover the first explosion.
"We know that a suicide bomber pretended to be a reporter," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told Reuters. "He showed his press card and stood among journalists before blowing himself up." Eight of those killed and five of the wounded were journalists, including the chief Afghanistan photographer for Agence France-Presse, Shah Marai. The other seven worked for Afghan radio and TV stations.
In Kandahar, a suicide bomber in a vehicle attacked a convoy of foreign military forces but killed 11 children from a nearby religious school, or madrasa, who had gathered around the convoy. That attack, still unclaimed, also wounded five NATO soldiers, nine civilians, and two policemen, The Associated Press reports. Afghanistan has been hit by a series of deadly bombings this year, including an attack that killed 60 people, including 22 women and eight children, last week outside a voter registration center in Kabul. Peter Weber
A defense ministry spokesman told the BBC 10 other soldiers were injured. There were five militants involved in the attack, he said, and two were killed when they blew themselves up and two others were killed in a shootout. The fifth militant has been arrested. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
There's been a sharp uptick in violence across Afghanistan, with the Taliban and ISIS targeting hotels, military bases, and offices this month. On Saturday, an ambulance filled with explosives blew up on a busy street in Kabul, killing at least 100 people. Catherine Garcia