Around 40 killed in Kabul blasts targeting Shia centre


Around 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shia cultural centre in Kabul on Thursday, officials said, in the latest violence to hit the city.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban was quick to deny involvement in the assault near the Afghan Voice Agency, a media outlet which earlier reports had suggested could have been the target.
Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the attack was in fact aimed at the Shia Tabayan cultural centre in the west of the city.
"The suicide attacker detonated himself during a gathering at Tabayan cultural centre causing a lot of casualties," Rahimi said.
The main explosion was followed by two smaller bomb blasts that did not cause casualties, he said, adding that the gathering was being held to mark the 38th anniversary of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.
There were chaotic scenes at the Istiqlal hospital where ambulances brought victims, including women and children. Many of them were suffering severe burns to their faces and bodies, as well as shrapnel wounds.
Kabul has become one of the deadliest places in war-torn Afghanistan for civilians in recent months, as the Taliban step up their attacks and the Islamic State group (IS) seeks to expand its presence in the country.
Thursday's assault comes days after a suicide bomber killed six civilians in an attack near an Afghan intelligence agency compound in the city, which was claimed by IS.
The Middle Eastern jihadist group has gained ground in Afghanistan since it first appeared in the region in 2015 and has scaled up its attacks in Kabul, including on security installations and the country's Shia minority. (AFP)
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