The Uranus Wedding Hall in Kabul, a large structure with bright neon lights, sits amidst a line of equally colourful and vibrant buildings, facing the highway that leads to Kabul airport.
The buildings’ bright and flashy exteriors, often accentuated by neon artwork and replicated of the Eiffel Tower or the Burj Khalifa among others, are a symbolic reminder of Afghan celebrations — grand and lavish. Built on 6,000 square meters of land, its halls can hold up to 1,300 guests.
The government has in the past made attempts, with little success, to bring under control the show of splendour associated with Afghan weddings, including such halls.
On Tuesday, however, the staff at Uranus were hosting a birthday, not a wedding.
A large congregation of religious leaders, scholars and worshippers of the Sufi sect of Islam in Afghanistan had gathered to mark the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Mohammad.
Among them was 11-year-old Mohammad Idrees, a young student with a keen interest in the faith of his forefathers, who had accompanied his father Qari Nek Mohammad for an evening of prayers and Quran recitals.
Young Idrees and his fellow worshippers joined in the recitation of the Quran, filling the crowded hall with ongoing prayer symphonies – until a large explosion ripped through the congregation, followed by chaos and fearful screams.
A suicide bomber detonated his vest resulting in at least 52 deaths and 83 injured.
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