The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underling the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agree a pact with the United States. The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for the Kabul attack and condemned it.
Taliban and US negotiations
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government.
IS building base
Islamic State (IS) fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi’ite neighbourhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of “infidels”.
IS has claimed some of the most bloody attacks in Afghan cities over the past couple of years, with some aimed at the Shi’ite minority.
About the attack
More than 180 people were wounded with many women and children among the casualties. Wedding halls have become a big business in Kabul as the Afghan economy slowly picks up and families spend more on celebrations.
Presence of US forces in Afghanistan
Some 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, training and advising Afghan security forces and conducting counterinsurgency operations.