Death toll in Afghanistan wedding blast rises to 80

Workers inspect the damaged wedding hall after the blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 18, 2019 [Mohammad Ismail-Reuters]

The death toll from a suicide bomb attack inside a wedding hall in the Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has risen to 80.

The initial tally after Saturday’s blast was 63 but on Wednesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said 17 civilians died from their wounds in recent days.

He added that 30 people were in critical condition after the attack.

“Seventeen others have succumbed to their injuries in hospital and over 160 are still being treated either in hospitals or at home,” Rahimi said.

The blast was so powerful that it blew much of the roof off the massive wedding hall, where hundreds of guests had gathered.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was Kabul’s deadliest attack since January 2018 when the Taliban packed an ambulance with explosives and detonated it in a crowded street – killing 103 people, according to an official toll.

Many Afghanistan independence day celebrations, that were scheduled to take place on August 19, were suspended in the aftermath of the horrific attack.

So far, security officials have yet to provide any explanation as to why the wedding was targeted.

Mansoor, a 28-year old Afghan who had 12 relatives attending the wedding, said he was told by some survivors that the bomber arrived on a bicycle.

He said he believed the target of the attack was not the wedding party.

“If you pay attention, there is a police headquarters on this road. There are at least two checkpoints he would have passed. Everyone said he appeared to be heading further along the road, but somehow he turned back,” he said.

Though Afghan wedding events have been targeted in the past, the attacks have mostly taken place in remote areas and usually attended by high-profile officials or strongmen targeted by rival forces or armed groups such as the Taliban or ISIL.

US forces have also been accused of attacking several wedding parties across the country during their military air campaigns.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack, vowing to “take revenge for every civilian drop of blood”.

“Our struggle will continue against [ISIL], we will take revenge and will root them out,” he said on Monday.

He urged the international community to join those efforts.

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