61 killed, 207 injured in Kabul suicide attack; Islamic State claims responsibility

Kabul: At least 61 people were killed and 207 others were injured in a deadly explosion that ripped through an area of Kabul Saturday where hundreds of minority Shiite Hazaras were protesting over a power line, the Health minister said.

“The dead and wounded were taken to Istiqlal hospital near the blast scene,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kaweesi said.

Initial reports suggest that the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber. However, there were three present — the first detonated explosives, the second’s vest turned out to be defective, while the third was killed by security officials.

Ambulances were struggling to reach the scene as authorities had overnight blocked key intersections with stacked shipping containers to prevent protesters from marching on the presidential palace.

According to eyewitnesses, several people suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack.

The demonstrators had gathered in a protest organised by the Enlightening Movement over the planned route of the 500kV power line project that the Afghanistan government intends to roll out.

The project will see a new power line run from Turkmenistan through Salang to Kabul. The Enlightenment Movement want the line to be routed through Bamiyan to Kabul, Tolo News reported.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul targeting members of the country’s Shi’ite Muslim minority, the group’s Amaq news agency reported.
 
“Two fighters from Islamic State detonated explosive belts at a gathering of Shi’ites in… the city of Kabul in Afghanistan,” Amaq said in a brief news alert.
With agencies input