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18 die in suicide attack outside Kabul wedding hall

KABUL: A suicide attacker blew himself up outside a wedding hall in Kabul killing at least 18 people, citing officials Afghan media reports said on Thursday.

Eight policemen were also among the deceased, reports said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the war-weary Afghan capital.

Supporters of Atta Mohammad 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.

The bomber tried to sneak into the premises but was halted at the security checkpoint where he detonated his explosives, Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said.

Earlier, 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.

“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 said.

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

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.

Noor has recently called for the return of Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who fled to Turkey in May after he was accused of rape and torture a political rival in 2016.



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