At least 50 killed in suicide attack on Kabul religious gathering

Kabul, Nov 20: At least 50 people were killed in a suicide attack on a religious celebration in Kabul on Tuesday, officials said, in one of the deadliest assaults to strike Afghanistan this year.

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It follows a wave of bloody violence across the war-torn country in recent weeks that has killed hundreds of people as militants step up assaults amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year conflict.

At least 72 people were wounded in the blast, health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said, which targeted religious scholars and leaders inside a wedding hall where hundreds had gathered to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday — one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

Religious studies lecturer Mohammad Hanif said verses of the Koran were being recited when there was a deafening explosion followed by “chaos” inside the packed hall.

“More than 60 or 70 people were martyred,” Hanif, 31, told AFP outside a trauma facility run by Italian NGO Emergency. He escaped unhurt.

“They suffered burns, everyone in the halls was screaming for help.”