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Dozens Wounded In Blasts As Afghanistan Marks Independence Day

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Afghan President Vows Vengeance After Deadly Wedding Bombing
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Dozens of people have been wounded in a series of explosions in eastern Afghanistan as the country marked 100 years of independence from the British.

At least 52 people were injured in 10 blasts in the eastern city of Jalalabad on August 19 as people were heading out to celebrate, the office of Nangarhar Province's governor said.

Some reports put the casualty toll at 66.

Officials said that most of the people sustained minor injuries and were released after treatment at local hospitals.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province, where both the Taliban and the local affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group are active.

Independence Day celebrations were also disrupted in neighboring Laghman Province's capital, Mehtarlam, where six people were injured in a mortar attack, officials said.

The blasts came after at least 63 people were killed and some 200 were wounded in a bombing at a Kabul wedding late on August 17 in an attack claimed by the local IS affiliate.

"We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood," President Ashraf Ghani declared in a statement, vowing to "eliminate" all safe havens of the IS group.

The shoes of victims in the Kabul wedding hall, damaged after the blast.
The shoes of victims in the Kabul wedding hall, damaged after the blast.

In a congratulatory message on the 100th anniversary of Afghanistan's independence, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Kabul bombing "an attack against humanity."

Pompeo said Afghans had much "to be proud of as you celebrate a century of resilience and cultural diversity."

The attack on the wedding was the deadliest in Kabul this year and came with Washington and Taliban militants reportedly nearing a deal to end a nearly 18-year war.

Pompeo mentioned improvements the country has seen over the last 20 years in "education, health, infrastructure, women's rights, economic opportunity, and media freedom."

WATCH: Wedding Guests Become Mourners After Suicide Bombing In Kabul

Wedding Guests Become Mourners After Suicide Bombing In Kabul
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Pompeo promised to "redouble our commitment" toward a "peaceful future."

"I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul," Ghani said in a tweet. "My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred."

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad took to Twitter to denounce the "heinous attack."

"We must accelerate the Afghan Peace Process including intra-Afghan negotiations. Success here will put Afghans in a much stronger position to defeat" the IS group, he wrote in a separate tweet.

The bombing hit a district of the Afghan capital more populated by Shi'a than many other parts of the city.

IS and its sympathizers and affiliates have repeatedly targeted Shi'a in addition to other victims since they became active in Afghanistan in 2015.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year. More children were killed last year -- 927 -- than in any other over the past decade by all actors, the UN said, including in operations against insurgent hideouts carried out by international forces.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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