Taliban deny involvement in Kabul bombing that killed 55

The Taliban have denied involvement in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital that killed at least 55 people.

Tuesday's attack, which targeted a gathering of hundreds of clerics at a wedding hall in Kabul, bore the hallmarks of a local Islamic State (IS) affiliate, which has carried out mass bombings targeting minority Shias as well as perceived supporters of the United States-backed government.

Public Health Ministry spokesperson Wahid Majroh on Wednesday said that 55 people were killed and 94 others were wounded in the attack, updating a previous toll.

Both the Taliban and the IS affiliate want to overthrow the Afghan government and impose a harsh form of Islamic rule. But they are bitterly divided over leadership, ideology and tactics.

The Taliban mainly target security forces and government officials, while IS specialises in sectarian attacks on civilians.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, late on Tuesday, said his group condemns any attack on civilians or religious clerics.

The suicide bomber was able to sneak into a wedding hall where hundreds of Muslim religious scholars and clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .

The IS group claimed a suicide bombing in June that killed at least seven people and wounded 20 at a meeting of top clerics in the capital.

The body of religious leaders, known as the Afghan Ulema Council, had issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks.

IS said it had targeted "tyrant clerics" who were siding with the US-backed government.

The Taliban denied involvement in the June attack but they also denounced the gathering.

Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the twin insurgencies since the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) formally ended their combat mission in 2014, shifting to a support and counterterrorism role.

President Donald Trump's decision last year to send in additional US forces has had little if any impact on the ground.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt