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At least 80 people have been killed in Kabul bombing

The blast struck a group of ethnic Hazara demonstrators.

An injured man in interviewed by journalists after an explosion struck a protest in Kabul.
An injured man in interviewed by journalists after an explosion struck a protest in Kabul.
Image: Rahmat Gul/AP/Press Association Images

Warning: Some people may find the images in this article distressing. 

AT LEAST 80 PEOPLE were killed and over 230 wounded in Kabul today, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed clothing among a large crowd of demonstrators.

In a statement issued by its news agency, Aamaq, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on a protest march by Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras.

Hazaras are predominantly Shiite Muslims, and IS views all Shiites as apostates.

The marchers were demanding that a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province.

Waheed Majroeh, the head of international relations for the Ministry of Public Health, confirmed the death toll and said it was likely to rise “as the condition of many of the injured is very serious”.

Footage on Afghan television and photographs posted on social media showed a scene of horror and carnage, with numerous bodies and body parts spread across the square.

Other witnesses said that after the blast security personnel shot their weapons in the air to disperse the crowd. Secondary attacks have been known to target people who come to the aid of those wounded in a first explosion.

Roadblocks that had been set up overnight to prevent the marchers accessing the centre of the city or the presidential palace hampered efforts to transfer some of the wounded to hospital, witnesses said. People have taken to social media to call for blood donations.

Angry demonstrations sealed some of the area around the square, and prevented police and other security forces from entering. Some threw stones at security forces.

Warning

The government had received intelligence that an attack on the march could take place, and had warned the organisers, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told the Associated Press.

Afghanistan Source: Rahmat Gul/AP

“We had intelligence over recent days and it was shared with the demonstration organisers, we shared our concerns because we knew that terrorists wanted to bring sectarianism to our community,” presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said.

Two suicide bombers had attempted to target the demonstrators, who were gathering in Demazang Square as their four-hour protest march wound down, Chakhansuri said.

One of the suicide bombers was shot by the police, he told AP. He said that three district police chiefs on duty at the square were injured and another three security personnel were killed.

He said Ghani planned to meet with the organisers later today, and would make a live television appearance after that.

None of the organisers could be immediately reached for comment.

Earlier, one of the march organisers, Laila Mohammadi, said she arrived at the scene soon after the blast and saw “many dead and wounded people”.

Shortly before the IS statement, the Taliban’s spokesman sent an email to the AP denying any Taliban involvement in the blast.

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Associated Press

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