A mortar attack on a gathering in Kabul on Thursday killed at least three people and injured 22, including a woman and children, officials said.
The ceremony, attended by officials, was in light of 24th death anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari, an Afghan politician popular among Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia minority. He was assassinated in 1995 by the Taliban, and was recently awarded the title of the ‘Martyr Of National Unity’.
Many prominent Afghan political figures were targeted, including the chief executive Dr Abdulla Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and former National Security Adviser and presidential candidate Mohammed Hanif Atmar, who escaped the attack unharmed.
“This was the most horrid and unforgivable attack on civilians by a merciless enemy,” tweeted Mr Atmar. Eight of his body guards were injured.
The attack claimed by ISIS, represents a major security breach and marks a resumption of violence in the capital casting a shadow on the ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban in Doha. One of the militants has been arrested by Afghanistan security forces and the rest are surrounded by police, the General Khoshal Sadat, the Deputy Minister for Security said.
ISIS later said its fighters targeted the ceremony with mortar fire, according to a statement published by the group’s propaganda agency Amaq. The group however has been relatively quiet in recent months as the Taliban, Afghan security forces, and the US all target IS’s shrinking stronghold in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.
According to local media, it was an elaborate assault involving rockets and hand grenades. The first rockets fell while Dr Abdullah was delivering his speech.
“Terrorists were firing mortars at Abdul Ali Mazari remembrance ceremony, from inside a compound [that] belongs to Roshan phone tower,” said General Khoshal Sadat, deputy minister security, Ministry of Interior.
A local reporter, who was close to the attack, told The National he heard up to 24 explosions.
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