Kabul explosion kills 40 at gathering of clerics

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At least 40 people have been killed in an explosion at a meeting hall in the Afghan capital, Kabul, the health ministry says.

At least 60 people were also injured as religious scholars met at the Uranus hall in PD15 district to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. A government spokesman said initial reports suggested a suicide bomber.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have carried out regular bomb attacks in Afghanistan. The death toll from the latest explosion is one of the worst in the capital for months.

An injured person is taken to hospital in Kabul

At least 1,000 people were in the hall at the time of the explosion; Tolo News quoted eyewitnesses as saying. No-one has yet admitted responsibility for the blast.

The Islamic State group said it was behind two attacks in Kabul in August that killed dozens of people. Dozens were also killed across the country as voters cast ballots in the nation’s parliamentary elections in October.

However, there have been recent moves to try to end decades of war.This month, Taliban militants for the first time attended an international meeting, hosted by Russia, to discuss the matter.

The Taliban’s power and reach have surged since foreign combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014. But the Islamic State in Afghanistan group, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan, also remains highly active.

Civilian deaths and injuries have have hit record highs. Casualty figures for the conflict, which began in 2001, are the highest since the UN started keeping records in 2009. (BBC)

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