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At least 40 killed in Kabul blast near wedding hall - Afghan ministry

20 November 2018

A suicide bomber who targeted a gathering of religious scholars in Kabul has killed at least 40 people and wounded another 60, authorities say.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said another 83 people were wounded in the attack, with 20 of them in critical condition and the toll likely to rise.

A government spokesman said initial reports suggested a suicide bomber.

IS claimed a suicide bombing in June that targeted a meeting of the country's top clerics in the capital.

Tolo News quoted eyewitnesses as saying that at least 1,000 people were in the hall at the time of the explosion.

An hour after the explosions ambulances were still heard rushing to-and-from the scene of the explosion to hospitals in the city center.

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Both the Sunni Taliban militant group and a local Islamic State affiliate have in the past attacked religious scholars aligned with the government - who have decreed that suicide attacks are forbidden by Islam.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims of the deadly attack, which he described as an "unforgivable crime".

Last month's parliamentary elections sparked a wave of deadly violence across the country, with hundreds killed or wounded in poll-related attacks. Afghan officials said the suicide bomber targeted a gathering of Muslim religious scholars in Kabul, killing tens of people.

The latest attack comes as the Taliban intensifies pressure on Afghan security forces, even as the global community ramps up efforts to convince the group to engage in peace talks.

The security situation in Kabul has deteriorated sharply in the past year.

At least 40 killed in Kabul blast near wedding hall - Afghan ministry