TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A suicide bomber blew himself up near a Shiite shrine in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 29 people and wounding dozens, officials said, as the Afghan capital celebrated the Nowruz holiday marking the start of the Persian new year.
The explosion underlined the threat to the city from militant attacks, despite government promises to tighten security in the wake of an attack in January that killed around 100 people, Reuters reported.
Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorist group, which has claimed several previous attacks on Shiite targets, claimed responsibility, its Amaq news agency said. The Taliban issued a statement denying any connection.
Kabul had been on alert for attacks over the Nowruz holiday but the bomber was still able to detonate his explosives as people were leaving the Kart-e Sakhi shrine west of Kabul.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said the bomber had apparently intended to reach the shrine, which was attacked during a Shiite festival in October 2016, but had been prevented from getting closer by police checkpoints.
“We had our security in place in and around the shrine,” he said. “All the casualties were young people who were either passing by on the road or gathering to enjoy Nowruz.”
Waheed Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 29 people were confirmed dead with 52 wounded being treated in hospitals in the city. Women and children were among the casualties, he said.
The seemingly endless attacks have undermined support for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who offered last month to hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents fighting to drive out international forces and retake power in the country.
The Taliban have so far shown little sign of accepting the offer of talks with the Western-backed government, which they consider an illegitimate, foreign-imposed regime, although they have offered to talk to the United States.