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Afghanistan: Suicide attack targets Kabul scholars against terrorism, 14 killed

5th Jun 2018
Afghanistan: Suicide attack targets Kabul scholars against terrorism, 14 killed

By Shadi Khan Saif

 

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA): At least 14 people were killed and some 20 wounded in a suicide bomb attack targeting a gathering of religious scholars in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Monday, according to police.

“Tight security was in place for the gathering of the Ulamas [religious scholars] in the Loya Jirga [grand gathering] arena when the attacker blew his explosives close to the venue on the main road,” Hashmat Stanikzai, a police spokesman, told Anadolu Agency.

Stanikzai said the lone attacker was on foot when he blew up his explosives after the gathering ended and the scholars were on their way home. The gathering was held in a tent near the Polytechnic University.

The UN and United States further condemned the attack, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressing “no cause can justify such violence,” calling the tragedy a “clear violation of international law,” according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement: “Today’s attack targeting civilians and those religious leaders working towards peace in Afghanistan exposes the terrorists’ inhumanity and contradicts the Islamic principles and legitimacy they claim to defend.”

Taliban denies involvement

The gathering of up to 2,000 Afghan scholars had issued a religious decree denouncing numerous attacks in recent months in the country.

“Suicide attacks, explosions killing people, causing division, insurgency, varios types of corruption, robbery, kidnapping and any type of violence are counted as grave sins in Islam and are against the order of the Almighty Allah,” the decree said.

The scholars also renewed their call on the Taliban to shun violence and join the Afghan peace process.

The Taliban denied any involvement in this attack.

However, in the past, militants have dubbed such pro-government religious scholars as “puppets”.

It is not clear yet how many among the dead were participants of the gathering of religious scholars.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many provincial heads of the pro-government National Council of Ulama (religious scholars or clergymen) and other pro-government religious figures have been assassinated in Afghanistan.

*Fatih Hafiz Mehmet contributed to this report from Ankara, and Michael Hernandez contributed from Washington

[Photo: Police officers take security measures as they block the road after a suicide bomber attacked the Afghan Ulema Council’s meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 04, 2018. Photographer: Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat/AA]

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