Islamic State has allegedly claimed responsibility for the bombing during a peaceful political demonstration on Saturday in Kabul, suicide bombers detonated vests laden with explosives, effectively killing more than 80 individuals and injuring more than 230 others.
According to Afghan officials, three suicide bombers set out to detonate suicide belts in the middle of a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority, which consists of mainly Shi’ites. Two members of the Islamic State succeeded in setting off their explosives, with one setting off prematurely. Police shot the third bomber before he could set off his belt.
According to Al Jazeera, the attack was claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), “Two fighters from Islamic State detonated explosive belts at a gathering of Shi’ites in… the city of Kabul in Afghanistan,” stated Amaq, an ISIL-linked website.
Reuters reports that the Taliban has released a statement on its website denying any involvement in the attack, claiming that it was a “plot to ignite civil war.”
The bombing took place in Deh Mazang Circle, television coverage displayed a horrific scene filled with “charred bodies and dismembered limbs lying on a bloodied road in Deh Mazang Circle.” Members of the Hazara community were demonstrating against the route of a multimillion dollar power line proposal that a 500 kV transmission line from Turkmenistan to Kabul be re-routed through two provinces with higher Hazara populations as they “feared being shut out of the project.”
According to a Qais Azimy, a correspondent for Al Jazeera reporting from Kabul, this was the deadliest attack carried out in Kabul in years. “In the past, ISIL has carried out attacks in the eastern part of the country, mainly suicide attacks, but not as far as Kabul—they were limited to Nangarhar province along the border with Pakistan.”
“If it is true that ISIL is behind this attack it shows the growing capability of the group,” Azimy said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released a statement expressing his condolences, saying he was “deeply saddened” and the attack also killed several security officials. President Ghani declared a national day of mourning and vowed revenge.
The United States and Russia stood in solidarity, condemning the attack and renewed pledges of security support to Kabul. The top U.N. official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto also condemned the act as a war crime.
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