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Gunmen attacked a memorial ceremony for a minority Shiite leader in Kabul Friday, killing at least 29 people and wounding more than 55 others in the first major attack on the Afghan capital since the US reached a troop withdrawal agreement with the Taliban.
The attack occurred in the predominantly Hazara Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul during a memorial ceremony for Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader of Afghanistan's minority ethnic Hazaras, who was killed in 1995 by the Taliban.
A number of senior Afghan officials, including top political leader Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive and a leading contender in last year's presidential election, were attending the ceremony when the attack began.
Abdullah escaped unharmed, but at least 27 people, all civilians, were killed, according to Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
"The attack started with a boom, apparently a rocket landed in the area, Abdullah and some other politicians … escaped the attack unhurt," Abdullah's spokesman, Fraidoon Kwazoon, who was also present, told Reuters by telephone.
Leading Afghan broadcaster Tolo News showed live footage of people running for cover as gunfire was heard.
Islamic State group claims responsibility
Hours later, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack, the groups Amaq news agency reported on its Telegram app channel.
The groups regional arm, the Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K), posted a photograph of two men it claimed were the suicide bombers sitting before a black flag and surrounded by automatic rifles, bullet cartridges and grenades.
The attack came just days after the US and the Taliban signed an ambitious peace deal that lays out a conditions-based path to the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. Any US troop pullout would be tied in part to promises by the Taliban to fight terrorism and the IS group.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that the attack was "a crime against humanity and against the national unity of Afghanistan".
Ghani said he had telephoned Abdullah, his longtime political rival. Abdullah is contesting an Electoral Commission announcement last month declaring Ghani the winner of September's presidential election.
President Ghani called Mr. Abdullah Abdullah and Mr. Khalili after the terrorist attack took place on a gathering in which they had attended to assure himself of their wellbeings. In today's terrorist attack, we lost so many of our innocent fellow-citizen. It is a sad day.
— Sediq Sediqqi (@SediqSediqqi) March 6, 2020
Panic at attack site, mourning in morgues
Dozens of relatives gathered at the morgue of a hospital not far from the blast, with many breaking down in tears as they waited to identify their loved ones.
Ambulances and stretchers bustled back and forth at the hospital to deliver the wounded for treatment.
"I was at the ceremony when gunshots started. I rushed toward the door to get out of the area but suddenly my foot was hit by a bullet," Mukhtar Jan told Reuters from a stretcher at the hospital.
Ali Attayee, at the hospital to support his wounded brother, said: "Those who committed this crime want to destroy our people at this juncture in society, we're sorry for those committing such crimes."
Several TV journalists were covering the ceremony inside a walled compound when the gunmen began shooting, and a reporter and a cameraman for a local broadcasRead More – Source