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Deadly Suicide Attack Near Political Gathering in Kabul

Deadly Suicide Attack Near Political Gathering in Kabul

Thursday, 16 November, 2017 - 11:00
File photo: The scene of a suicide bombing in Kabul. AFP/ Noorullah Shirzada

A suicide attacker blew himself up outside a wedding hall in the Afghan capital killing at least nine people, officials said Thursday, in an apparent attempt to strike a gathering of regional leader Atta Mohammad Noor.

Supporters of Noor, the powerful governor of the northern province of Balkh and vocal critic of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, had been holding an event inside the hall at the time of the blast.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast through its Amaq news agency, without giving evidence.

The bomber tried to get into the hotel hosting the gathering in the Khair Khana district of Kabul but was stopped at the security checkpoint where he detonated his device, Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP.

"A number of our police personnel are among the casualties," Mujahid added.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said seven policemen and two civilians had been killed. 

"The bomber detonated himself after he was identified by the police at the entrance gate," Danish said.

Another nine were wounded including seven police and two civilians, Danish added.

Noor was not at the event, one of his aides told AFP.

"After lunch as we were exiting the hall a huge explosion shook the hall, shattering glass and causing chaos and panic," Harun Mutaref, who was at the gathering, told AFP.

"I saw many bodies including police and civilians lying in blood."

An AFP photographer said the windows of the wedding hall had been shattered by the force of the blast and a vehicle parked outside was on fire.  

Dozens of police and intelligence officers have swarmed the area and blocked access to the public. 

Photos posted on Twitter showed multiple bodies of men lying on top of each other in a muddy street and in a drain, and people dragging away the wounded. 

Noor, a senior leader of the Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e Islami party, has been an outspoken critic of Ghani and the National Unity Government. 

He has previously hinted that he may run in the 2019 presidential election.

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