KABUL – A wedding celebration in Afghanistan turned into a tragedy when a suicide bombing killed 63 people and injured another 182, raising questions over a possible peace deal between Taliban insurgents and the United States.
The attack left on Saturday a large number of women and children dead, police spokesperson Ferdawas Faramarz told EFE.
“The ceremony was about to end when the incident happened,” the groom told the local Tolo TV channel.
“All those who were killed and wounded from both sides were my relatives,” he said. “No one thought that my wedding would destroy. Last night I earned sorrow instead of happiness.”
On Sunday, mass funerals took place in the Afghan capital, where the victims were buried amid the sobs of other family members, while the wedding hall in a Hazara Shiite minority neighborhood stood with its ceiling and walls blown out by the force of the explosion.
The Islamic State terror organization claimed authorship of the attack in a statement on Telegram, although the veracity of the claim could not be independently verified.
The terror group claimed that a car bomb went off after the suicide attack, killing 400 people and leaving Afghan troops among the wounded.
The Taliban distanced itself from the atrocity and its spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the group condemned the attack on civilians.
The incident has set off a wave of outrage on the part of the Afghan population and been condemned by political figures at home and abroad.
President Ashraf Ghani described the attack as “inhumane” and “barbaric,” and said his “top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims.”
“The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” the president said.
The United Nations condemned the “cowardly act of terror” against the civilian population while the European Union’s delegation in Afghanistan described the perpetrators as “enemies of humanity.”
The attack comes at a time when the Taliban and US were gearing up to sign a possible peace deal.
The insurgent group said Tuesday that the working out of an agreement to find an end to almost two decades of conflict in Afghanistan was nearly there, although another meeting needed to take place and the signing of the document would be done in the presence of international guarantors.
Some analysts have warned that the IS, which is resisting in Afghanistan and still maintains a stronghold in the eastern Nangarhar province, could jeopardize the peace process as well as the region’s stability.
Political expert Shahzada Masoud, an advisor to former President Hamid Karzai, told EFE that some organizations were looking to “sabotage the peace process” by attacking the country’s civilians.