KABUL – Gunmen attacked a ceremony in the Afghan capital on Friday where a top Afghan political leader, Abdullah Abdullah, was present but escaped unharmed.
At least 27 people were killed and 29 others wounded at an event marking the death anniversary of a Shia Muslim leader, according to Afghan officials. This is the first big attack on the capital since a troop withdrawal agreement was signed last week in Doha between the United States and the Afghan Taliban.
Afghan security forces were still trying to flush the gunmen out of a half-finished apartment building, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
The Taliban said in a statement they were not involved in the attack.
“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.
The gathering marked the anniversary of the death of Abdul Ali Mazari, an ethnic Hazara leader who was killed in 1995 after being taken prisoner by the Taliban.
Several people were killed in a similar attack on the same commemoration last year. The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.
Hazaras are mostly Shia Muslims. Minority Shias have been repeatedly attacked by militant groups in Afghanistan.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.