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At Least 41 Killed In Attack On Shi'ite Culture Center In Kabul


Kabul Attack: 'Bodies Were Piled On Top Of Each Other'
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KABUL -- Afghanistan's Interior Ministry says at least 41 people have been killed and 84 wounded by multiple bomb blasts at a Shi'ite cultural center in Kabul.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the December 28 attack, which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called a "crime against humanity" committed by terrorists.

"The terrorists have killed our people," Ghani said in a statement. "The terrorists have attacked our mosques, our holy places, and now our cultural center."

Ghani said the explosions were attacks against Islam and "all human values."

Afghanistan's Taliban militant group denied that it was involved.

The United States, NATO, and the United Nations condemned the attack.

"I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians," said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. "Today in Kabul, we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities."

The White House condemned what it called a "barbarous" attack and said President Donald Trump had been briefed and was monitoring developments.

It said the United States pledged to work with Kabul to find and punish the attackers, saying that "the enemies of Afghanistan will not succeed in their attempts to destroy the country and divide the Afghan people.”

Dozens Killed In Kabul Attack
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U.S. forces led an invasion to drive Taliban extremists from power after Al-Qaeda militants whose leaders were sheltering in Afghanistan carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Troops have remained in the country, although at greatly reduced numbers since peaking during the initial stages.

Initial reports suggested the attack had targeted the Afghan Voice news agency on the west side of the Afghan capital.

But Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said later that the blasts were aimed at the Shi'ite Tabayan cultural center near the news agency's office.

In the IS statement, the Sunni extremist group claimed the center received support from Shi’ite Iran and that it sent Afghan young people to Iran for academic training.

Rahimi said a suicide bomber entered the building and blew himself up during a crowded ceremony marking the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Rahimi said there were two other explosions on the street outside of the building as people were gathering to help those injured by the first blast.

He said the smaller explosions outside of the building did not kill anyone.

Wahidullah Majroh, a spokesman for the Afghan Public Health Ministry, said 76 of the wounded were men, while eight were women.

The attack took place in western Kabul's Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood, a predominantly Shi'ite area that has been targeted in the past by IS militants.

Recently, the Sunni extremist group has increased its attacks against Shi'a in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul.

Afghan officials say more than 30 people were killed and 45 wounded by a bombing at a Shi'ite mosque in October.

Locals at the mosque reported that the death toll was much higher.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, Pajhwok, and dpa