The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underling the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agree a pact with the United States.
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government.
Islamic State (IS) fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi’ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of “infidels”.
IS has claimed some of the most bloody attacks in Afghan cities over the past couple of years, with some aimed at the Shi’ite minority.
The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for the Kabul attack and condemned it.
More than 180 people were wounded with many women and children among the casualties, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on Sunday, as families thronged to Kabul’s crowded cemeteries.
“We want peace, not such brutal suicide attacks,” said Ahmad Khan, who was burying a relative.