At least 29 people were killed and 61 wounded in an attack at a event attended by Afghan politicians in Kabul on Friday, ToloNews reported. This is the first major attack on the capital since a troop withdrawal accord was signed in Doha between the United States and the Taliban.
The Taliban, however, said they were not involved in the attack, according to AFP.
The gathering marked the commemoration ceremony for Abdul Ali Mazari, an ethnic Hazara leader who was killed in 1995 after being taken as a prisoner by the insurgents. It was attended by many of the country’s political elite, including Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.
The interior ministry said that “all the high-ranking officials were safely evacuated from the scene”.
Interior ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said gunmen opened fire from a construction site near the ceremony in the city’s west, which is largely Shiite. Hazaras are mostly Shi’ite Muslims. Sunni Muslim militant groups in Afghanistan have repeatedly attacked minority Sh’ites.
President Ashraf Ghani said that the attack was “a crime against humanity and against the national unity of Afghanistan”.
Under the agreement between the US and Taliban, America is committed to reducing the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 from 13,000 within 135 days of signing. It also is committed under the deal to work with allies to proportionally reduce the number of coalition forces in Afghanistan over that period, if the Taliban forces adhere to their security guarantees and ceasefire. A partial truce went on for one week ahead of the signing of the accord. The fall in attacks allowed people of Afghanistan to go about their daily lives without fear of violence.