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Isis claims responsibility for Kabul terror attack

18 Apr 2018 The Independent

Isis has claimed responsibility for a coordinated bomb attack on a Shia cultural centre in the Afghan capital Kabul,

Afghan officials say at least 41 people died and 30 were injured in the attack on Thursday morning.

According to the group’s news agency, Amaq, three bombs were detonated before a militant in a suicide vest stormed the Tibian Social and Cultural Centre. 

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The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Many of the victims were students, according to witnesses.

The blast reportedly ripped apart the offices of the neighbouring Afghan Voice news agency. Amaq said any deaths of journalists were accidental.

Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at the news agency, said there appeared to have been more than one explosion during the attack, following an initial blast at the entrance to the compound. He said one reporter at the agency had been killed and one injured.

The floor of the centre, at the basement level, was covered in blood as wailing survivors and relatives picked through the debris, while windows of the news agency, on the second floor, were all shattered.

Photographs sent by witnesses showed what appeared to be serious damage at the site, in a heavily Shia Muslim area in the west of the capital, and a number of dead and wounded on the ground.

Sayed Jan, a participant in the conference, told Reuters from his bed in the hospital: “There was a reading and an academic discussion and then there was a huge bang.

“I felt my face burning and I fell down and saw other colleagues lying around me and smoke everywhere.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Twitter earlier denying involvement.

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Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said in a statement: “This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians. In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.

“With the Afghan capital hit once again, no one can credibly claim that Kabul is safe. The European governments who insist on this dangerous fiction by forcibly returning Afghans are putting their lives in danger.”

John R Bass, US ambassador to Afghanistan, said: “I strongly condemn today’s horrific and indiscriminate attack on civilians at a cultural and social centre in Kabul.

“On behalf of all my colleagues, I extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims. This incident once again demonstrates the depravity of those who seek to undermine peace and stability in Afghanistan. We remain confident the Afghan government and people, supported by their friends and partners, will defeat those behind these terrible acts.

“The United States continues to stand with all Afghans in their pursuit of peace, security and prosperity.”

US President Donald Trump had been informed of the blast and was said to be monitoring the situation.

Military officials have identified Afghanistan as one of several hubs for Isis following the loss of its self-declared “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.

The group’s regional branch, named Wilayat Khorasan, has been competing against the Taliban since gathering support from local militants in 2014.

Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear


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Mahbooba stands against a bullet-ridden wall, waiting to be seen at a medical clinic. The seven-year-old girl suffers from leishmaniasis, a parasitical infection. (Kabul, March 1, 2002)

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A mother and her two children look out from their cave dwelling. Many families who, fleeing the Taliban, took refuge inside caves adjacent to Bamiyan’s destroyed ancient Buddha statues now have nowhere else to live. (Bamiyan, November 19, 2003)

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Students recite prayers in a makeshift outdoor classroom in the Wakhan Corridor, a mountainous region in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from India and Pakistan. (Northeastern Afghanistan, September 2, 2007)

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Bodybuilders in the 55-60 kg category square off during a regional bodybuilding competition. Many Afghan men, like others around the world, feel that a macho image of physical strength is important. (Kabul, August 6, 2007)

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A woman in a white burqa enjoys an afternoon with her family feeding the white pigeons at the Blue Mosque. (Mazar-e-Sharif, March 8, 2008)

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Addicts inject heroin while trying to keep warm inside the abandoned Russian Cultural Center, which the capital city’s addicts use as a common gathering point. Heroin is readily available, costing about one dollar a hit. (Kabul, February 9, 2009)

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An elderly man holds his granddaughter in their tent at a refugee camp after they were forced to flee their village, which US and NATO forces had bombed because, they claimed, it was a Taliban hideout. (Surobi, Nangarhar Province, February 7, 2009)

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Seven-year-old Attiullah, a patient at Mirwais Hospital, stands alongside an X ray showing the bullet that entered his back, nearly killing him. Attiullah was shot by US forces when he was caught in a crossfire as he was herding sheep. (Kandahar, October 13, 2009).

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US Army Sargeant Jay Kenney (right), with Task Force Destiny, helps wounded Afghan National Army soldiers exit a Blackhawk helicopter after they have been rescued in an air mission. (Kandahar, December 12, 2010)

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An Afghan National Army battalion marches back to barracks at the Kabul Military Training Center. (Kabul, October 4, 2010)

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Eid Muhammad, seventy, lives in a house with a view overlooking the hills of Kabul. He and millions of other Afghans occupy land and housing without possessing formal deeds to them. (Kabul, November 21, 2014)

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Razima holds her two-year-old son, Malik, while waiting for medical attention at the Boost Hospital emergency room. (Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, June 23, 2014)

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Young women cheer as they attend a rally for the Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani. (Kabul, April 1, 2014)

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Burqa-clad women wait to vote after a polling station runs out of ballots. (Kabul, April 5, 2014)

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Relatives, friends, and women’s rights activists grieve at the home of Farkhunda Malikzada, who was killed by a mob in the center of Kabul. Farkhunda was violently beaten and set on fire after a local cleric accused her of burning a Qur’an. (Kabul, March 22, 2015)

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The two terrorist groups have been battling for control over areas of Nangarhar and Farah province, as well as continuing an insurgency against the Afghan government.

Isis has launched several rounds of deadly bombings and shooting attacks in Kabul and other Afghan cities, predominantly targeting Shia Muslims, as well as assassinations across the country.

Its activity has drawn increasing US air strikes against Isis militants in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and al-Qaeda factions, seeing a record 653 bombs, missiles and other munitions dropped in October.

According to a report this month by Reporters without Borders, Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers. Before Thursday’s attack, two journalists and five media assistants were killed doing their jobs in 2017.

Additional reporting by news agencies

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