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At Least Nine Dead In Kabul Suicide Bombing


Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of a suicide bombing in Kabul on March 9.

An Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber blew himself up in Kabul's Shi'ite area on March 9, killing at least nine people, officials said.

One police officer was among those killed in the attack, which occurred near a gathering to mark the 23rd anniversary of the death of Abdul Ali Mazari, a prominent former leader of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara ethnic community who was killed by the Taliban.

Afghan Interior Ministry deputy spokesperson Nusrat Rahimi told RFE/RL that at least nine people were killed and 18 others were wounded in the attack.

The IS group in a statement posted on an IS-affiliated website said it was behind the Kabul attack. The claim says IS targeted a gathering of Shi'ites as they were commemorating the death of a "tyrant."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, promising that those behind the attack would be given the death penalty, if found and convicted.

Kabul police chief Mohammad Daud Amin told Afghan news outlet Tolo News that the bomber detonated his explosive device at a checkpoint "after being identified by police."

"The bomber failed to get inside to target the gathering," Amin said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan's minority Shi'ites, who are mostly Hazaras, have lately been frequently targeted in militant attacks, either by the Taliban or the Islamic State group.

Sunni militants consider the Shi'ites heretics and urge followers to kill them.

The March 9 attack comes a week after a car bomb exploded near a passing Australian Embassy convoy in eastern Kabul, killing at least one child and wounding several other people.

Kabul is one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians. Since mid-January, militants have stormed a hotel, bombed a crowded commercial street, raided a military compound, and launched a suicide attack during morning rush hour, killing more than 130 people.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at an international conference in Kabul last week unveiled a plan to open talks with the Taliban.

In return, Ghani said the militants should officially recognize the Afghan government and constitution.

"The offer of negotiation is on the table," UN envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto told a Security Council meeting on March 8.

The United States has also called on the insurgents to consider the offer of peace talks.

Before Ghani's offer, the Taliban had called for direct talks with Washington.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and