Suicide attack in Afghan capital claims multiple lives

A suicide attack at a facility hosting a news agency and a cultural center in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday has claimed multiple lives.

Nasrat Rehimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Anadolu Agency 41 people, mostly civilians, were killed and several others injured. Most of them are civilians, boys and girls who had gathered today for a social gathering at the Tebyan Cultural Center, he said.

According to local broadcaster Tolo News, the cultural center had links to Iran. Tebyan is run by religious figure Hussaini Mazari. The Afghan Voice Agency founded in Mashhad, Iran, two decades ago, has been operating its Kabul office since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

The office of AVA which also housed a cultural center in the western Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood became target of the attack at 10:30 local time (0730GMT). The ethnic Shia Hazara community resides in the area which has been targeted by pro-Daesh militants in a number of similar attacks recently.

Hussain Husaini, head of the AVA, said in a post on his Facebook page that the attacker was on foot and detonated his explosive-laden vest upon entering the facility.

Daesh-linked Amaq News Agency claimed responsibility for the attack. It said the target was a 'major pro-Iran center in Afghanistan where Afghans were taught by the Iranians'.

The Taliban denied their involvement in a statement released by their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed.

The Afghan Shia-Hazara community has been on the hit list of the pro-Daesh militants for their alleged role in fighting along the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Iraq against Daesh. The group has claimed a number of similar attacks on Shia mosques in the Afghan capital.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement. The government in Afghanistan once again seriously stresses that there is a clear will to crush all terrorist groups," he said.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has also condemned the attack. I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians, said Toby Lanzer, the acting head of UNAMA. Today in Kabul we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities.

Pakistan denounced the attack in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan strongly condemns the dastardly terrorist attacks in Kabul this morning, in which many precious human lives were lost while a number of innocent people were injured, said a Foreign Office statement.

* Islamuddin Sajid contributed to the story from Islamabad.

Source: Anadolu Agency