Explosions caused what Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office calls “a massacre” in a Shiite area in Kabul on Thursday. The attack targeted civilians at a cultural center and affected a nearby news agency. At least 41 people died, and dozens more are wounded.
“Local media reported there were two suicide bombers,” NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports from Islamabad. “One of them detonated his explosives at the gate of a Shiite cultural center — the blast also damaged an Iranian-owned news agency.”
That Iran-backed news outlet, the Afghan Voice Agency, says its offices are housed in the Tabyan Cultural Center that was targeted. It also says one journalist was killed and others were wounded.
The attack struck as people were gathering for a celebration, the U.N. says. After the bombing, ISIS claimed responsibility. The Taliban issued its own statement, saying it had nothing to do with the attack.
“I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. “Today in Kabul, we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities.”
The attack struck on the three-year anniversary of the day that the U.S.-led NATO coalition officially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan, handing off many security duties to local forces.