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At least seven dead in attack on funeral in Kabul

The violence comes just three days after a bomb blast in the city killed 90 people.

Image: Massoud Hossaini

Updated 6.45pm 

EXPLOSIONS ROCKED THE funeral of an Afghan politician’s son in Kabul, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens, in fresh carnage that spiked tensions in a city already on edge.

Witnesses reported three blasts at the burial site of Salim Ezadyar, who was among four people killed yesterday when an anti-government protest over spiralling insecurity in Kabul degenerated into street clashes with police.

The hilly, wind-swept cemetery was littered with bloodied corpses and dismembered limbs, local television footage showed, with one witness telling AFP that “people were blown to pieces” due to the impact of the blasts.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told AFP:

So far seven dead bodies and 119 wounded people have been brought to Kabul hospitals.

The funeral of Salim Ezadyar, the son of an influential Afghan senator, was attended by senior government figures including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, but they escaped unharmed.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, with the Taliban – the biggest insurgent group in Afghanistan – denying any involvement.

The fresh killings are likely to further polarise a city that has been on edge since a truck bombing on Wednesday in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter killed 90 people and wounded hundreds, in the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001.

President Ashraf Ghani urged restraint after the funeral bombings, saying: “The country is under attack. We must stay united.”

Afghanistan Men try to recognise the victims from the remains of their clothes at the site of three suicide attacks. Source: AP/PA Images

Wednesday’s assault highlighted the ability of militants to strike even in the capital’s most secure district, home to the presidential palace and foreign embassies that are enveloped in a maze of concrete blast walls. The government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack.

Yesterday, the district centre again became a battlefield when hundreds of demonstrators incensed by the bombing clashed with police, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

City on lockdown

Police locked down much of Kabul city today, with armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets to prevent a repeat of yesterday’s violence.

Before the blasts at the funeral, authorities had sealed off roads in the centre of the city, citing the threat of new attacks on large gatherings of people.

“We have intelligence reports that our enemies are trying again to carry out attacks on gatherings and demonstrations,” Kabul garrison commander Gul Nabi Ahmadzai said earlier today. “We hope that people will stay away from protests.”

But dozens of protesters still gathered under a tent close to the presidential palace calling for Ghani’s government to resign, but the assembly was largely peaceful.

Afghanistan Protesters sit under a tent as the yplan to stay indefinitely near the Wednesday's suicide attack site, in Kabul Source: Massoud Hossaini

“Any government attempt to disrupt our fair and just demonstration will show their complicity with terrorist groups and the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack,” said Asif Ashna, a spokesman for the protesters.

It is the duty of the government to ensure security to the protesters… and the government will be held responsible for any violence.

The United Nations and a host of international allies have urged the protesters for restraint.

Afghanistan Angry men stone a fire fighter vehicle at the site of three suicide attacks during a funeral ceremony, in Kabul Source: Massoud Hossaini

“The enemy seeks to manipulate the people’s anger and sadness to create division and sow instability,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“Now is the time to stand unified and announce to the enemies that Afghans… will not allow cowards to break the resolve to achieve a stable and peaceful nation. The enemies of Afghanistan cannot win. They will not win.”

© AFP 2017

Read: At least 64 people killed and 320 wounded as bomb blast rips through Afghan diplomatic quarter

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