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Suicide bombing kills 63, wounds over 180 at Kabul wedding hall
Afghan officials reported that at least 63 people died and over 180 were wounded Sunday when a suicide bomber set off explosives at a wedding hall in Kabul.
A group affiliated with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. There were approximately 1,200 people in the hall when the bomber struck.
“There are so many dead and wounded,” survivor Ahmad Omid said. “I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was lying all around the hall.”
The incident was the deadliest one of its kind so far this year, and it took place in the western part of Kabul where many in the minority Shiite Hazara community reside.
Wedding hall targeted
Local hospitals were overwhelmed by the sheer number of injured needing treatment in the aftermath of the attack. Relatives waited hours to hear word about the condition of their loved ones.
Wedding halls are some of the few places people can go to escape the dreary realities of a decades-long war. Large numbers of people often gather together to celebrate weddings and have meetings, which makes them a target for attacks.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attack was inhumane and called for a day of mourning. “Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists,” Ghani said on Twitter.
“I won’t ever be able to forget this however much I try,” the groom, Mirwais Elmi, said in an interview on Sunday. “My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, my friends, my relatives,” Elmi added. “I never thought such a thing would happen at my wedding. I will never see happiness in my life again.”
The bride’s family lost 14 members in the attack, according to the Washington Post.
Peace deal imminent
The attack comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration appears poised to sign an agreement with the Taliban to end American involvement in the 18-year war that followed the 9/11 terror attacks.
If the administration’s deal goes through, most U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan as a result. American entanglement in Afghanistan began shortly after the September 2001 attacks, and our armed forces have been fighting the Taliban and other terrorist groups ever since.
The latest attack may cause some to question whether Afghanistan is stable enough for the U.S. to withdraw militarily, as it is not uncommon for new terror cells and groups to emerge whenever there is a significant power shift and a region becomes destabilized.
At some point, though, the U.S. needs to leave and let the Afghan government take care of its own people and mediate disputes including the one between the Sunnis and the Shiites that likely led to this attack.
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