KABUL, (AFGHANISTAN), March 7: At least two blasts struck a large ceremony Thursday attended by Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and other leading government officials, killing three people and injuring 22 others.
The Kabul attack represents a major security breach and marks a resumption of violence in the capital after weeks of calm amid ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban in Doha.
“Stay calm, the area of the blast is far from us,” said former lower house speaker Mohammad Younus Qanooni from the stage during a live broadcast of the outdoor event.
But moments after the announcement, another explosion and gunfire could be heard that sent people running.
A second unidentified voice then addressed the screaming crowd, saying: “I request my countrymen to stay calm. The mortar attack is far from the gathering.”
The blasts happened during a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the death of Shiite Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari that was attended by many of the country’s political elite, including Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.
“Today around 12 noon … mortars were fired on the gathering of Abdul Ali Mazari,” Nasrat Rahimi, acting interior ministry spokesman, said in a statement sent to journalists.
“The main suspect behind the attack has been arrested by the police and some others who were behind the attack were identified … and will be detained,” he added, saying the mortars landed outside the actual event.
“Twenty-two wounded — three children and one woman — and three dead have been taken to hospitals,” tweeted Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry. (AFP)