Kabul, July 23 (IANS) At least 61 people were killed and 207 injured when suspected Islamic State suicide bombers targeted a mass demonstration in the Afghan capital on Saturday.
IS fighters detonated explosive belts amidst a “gathering of Shi’ites” in Deh Mazang, said the group’s Amaq News Agency.
The incident took place as thousands of demonstrators gathered for a sit-in protest against the route of a planned power line project.
The Taliban militant group has denied any hand in the deadly attack. Taliban group spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the group has no link with the explosions in Kabul city, calling it a move to create divisions among the people, said Khaama.com.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) officials confirmed that 61 persons had died and said at least 207 have sustained injuries.
According to Tolo News, police said one suicide bomber detonated his explosives while the second person failed to explode his suicide vest. The third bomber was killed by security forces at the scene before he could detonate his vest.
Photographs and video footage taken by witnesses immediately after the blasts painted a horrific scene.
With smoke still rising, hundreds of people, many covered in blood, were filmed running from the scene. Extensive damage was also caused to nearby buildings, said Tolo News.
President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack.
The demonstrators had gathered in a protest organised by the Enlightening Movement over the planned route of the 500kV power line project that the Afghanistan government intends to roll out.
The project will see a new power line run from Turkmenistan through Salang to Kabul. The Enlightenment Movement wants the line to be routed through Bamiyan to Kabul, Tolo News reported.
Amnesty International has condemned the attack.