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Dozens dead or hurt in wedding hall blast in Afghan capital

By RAHIM FAIEZ

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — An explosion ripped through a wedding hall on a busy Saturday night in Afghanistan’s capital and dozens of people were killed or wounded, a government official said. Hundreds of people were believed to be inside.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi told The Associated Press there was no immediate information on the cause of the blast. Both the Taliban and a local affiliate of the Islamic State group carry out bloody attacks in the capital.

The blast at the Dubai City wedding hall in western Kabul, a part of the city that many in the minority Shiite Hazara community call home, shattered a period of relative calm in the city.

On Aug. 7, a Taliban car bomb aimed at Afghan security forces detonated on the same road in a busy west Kabul neighborhood, killing 14 people and wounding 145 — most of them women, children and other civilians.

Kabul’s huge, brightly lit wedding halls are a center of community life in a city weary of decades of war, with thousands of dollars spent on a single evening.

The halls also serve as meeting places, and in November at least 55 people were killed after a suicide bomber sneaked into a Kabul wedding hall where hundreds of Muslim religious scholars and clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

“Devastated by the news of a suicide attack inside a wedding hall in Kabul. A heinous crime against our people; how is it possible to train a human and ask him to go and blow himself (up) inside a wedding?!!” Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said in a Twitter post.