KABUL: Some 50 Islamic religious figures were killed on Tuesday in the Afghan capital in a suicide attack at a religious function, summoned for marking the birth of Islam’s prophet Mohammad (PBUH), officials said.
The interior ministry spokesman, Najib Danesh, told Arab News that nearly 70 other participants were wounded in the incident which happed inside the hall of a large hotel where the function was going on after evening’s prayers.
“It was summoned by the Ulema council and scholars from many parts of the country had gathered in it to recite Koran and mark Milad Sharif,” he said.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, calling it as unforgivable act. He ordered Wedneday as national mourning day when Afghanistan’s flag will be at half mast.
Over 20 of the scores wounded in the attack were in critical condition, public health ministry officials said.
The Taliban, the main insurgent group, which relies on suicide attacks against government and foreign military and civilian targets, distanced themselves from the attack and condemned it as a crime.
The function of was held by Sunni sect of Islam’s followers, residents said.
Sirens of ambulances could be heard in several parts of the city. Images on social media showed part of the badly damaged hall of the hotel with body parts strewn in various directions.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But affiliates of the Islamic State, have repeatedly targeted mosques and worshipping sites of Shiites in recent years in Afghanistan.
The network Shiites as deviants and Tuesday’s attack is the first of its kind against a Sunni religious gathering in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people had participated in the gathering and there were fears of rise of casualties.