Bomb rips through wedding in Kabul

Worried relatives gathered outside a hospital in Kabul[/caption] A bomb has exploded in a wedding hall in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and many casualties are feared. Witnesses told the BBC a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a wedding ceremony. Witnesses said they had seen bodies. The explosion happened at around 22:40 local time (18.10 GMT) in an area mostly populated by Shia Muslims. No group has said it carried out the attack, which happened in the west of the city. Sunni Muslim militants, including the Taliban and the Islamic State group, have repeatedly targeted Shia Hazara minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The latest blast comes just 10 days after a huge bomb outside a Kabul police station killed at least 14 people and injured nearly 150. The Taliban said it carried out that attack. On Friday a brother of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was killed by a bomb planted in a mosque near the Pakistani city of Quetta. No group has so far claimed the attack. A source in Afghan intelligence told the BBC that Hibatullah Akhundzada had been due to attend prayers at the mosque and was probably the intended target. Tensions in the country have been high even though the Taliban and the US, which has thousands of troops stationed in Afghanistan, are reportedly getting closer to announcing a peace deal. What do we know happened? Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed there had been civilian casualties from Saturday’s blast but said details were still being gathered. Afghan weddings often include hundreds of guests who gather in large halls where the men are usually segregated from the women and children. Wedding guest Mohammad Farhag said he had been in the women’s section when he heard a huge explosion in the men’s area. “Everyone ran outside shouting and crying,” he said. “For about 20 minutes the hall was full of smoke. Almost everyone in the men’s section is either dead or wounded. Now, two hours after the blast, they are still taking bodies out of the hall.”

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How are peace talks progressing? Taliban and US representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and both sides have reported progress. On Friday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that both sides were “looking to make a deal – if possible”. The deal would include a phased US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used by extremist groups to attack US targets. The Taliban would also begin negotiations with an Afghan delegation on a framework for peace including an eventual ceasefire. The militants have been refusing to negotiate with the Afghan government until a timetable for the US withdrawal is agreed upon. The Taliban now control more territory than at any point since they were forced from power in 2001. Source: BBC]]>