Gunmen opened fireplace on a memorial ceremony Friday in Kabul, killing at the very least 27 folks and wounding dozens extra within the first main assault within the Afghan capital for the reason that U.S. signed a peace framework with the Taliban late final week. A number of outstanding politicians, together with the nation’s chief government and up to date presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, have been within the viewers however escaped unhurt.
A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of the Inside mentioned the gunmen retreated to a close-by constructing, the place they were killed throughout an hours-long standoff with safety forces.
It’s unclear as but if a bigger group is accountable for the violence.
The Taliban, which has launched a wave of assaults towards Afghan forces throughout the nation in latest days, denied any connection with the assault Friday. Given the main target of the focused ceremony — which marked 25 years for the reason that demise of Abdul Ali Mazari, a frontrunner of the nation’s Shiite minority — suspicion has fallen on the Islamic State, the Sunni militant group that focused an identical occasion final yr.
“This example appears to be like infinite in our nation,” one of many folks injured within the assault informed native media. “There are political video games, however solely the poor folks pay the value — how lengthy will this proceed?”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani mentioned he called Abdullah, his erstwhile rival for the presidency, and Karim Khalili, the chief of Afghanistan’s excessive peace council. Khalili had been delivering an deal with on the ceremony when loud gunfire erupted, adopted by screams. He emerged from the assault unscathed.
“The assault is against the law towards humanity and towards the nationwide unity of Afghanistan,” Ghani mentioned in a press release posted to Twitter.
For Afghans, the assault caps a bloody week throughout the nation.
Simply six days in the past, the U.S. and Taliban introduced that that they had signed an settlement, providing hope for peace between the 2 longtime adversaries. The deal outlined a 14-month timeline for the withdrawal of the 1000’s of American nonetheless stationed in Afghanistan, which might carry an finish to the longest conflict in U.S. historical past.
The U.S. troop drawdown is partly conditioned on the Taliban fulfilling its guarantees to fight and forestall the unfold of terrorist teams akin to ISIS and al-Qaida.
However bother shortly adopted, as Ghani pushed again towards the deal’s proposal for a prisoner change, and the Taliban — after a seven-day reprieve — redoubled its lethal assaults on Afghan troops all through the nation. The violence escalated to the purpose that the U.S. mentioned it carried out a “defensive strike” on the Taliban, in search of to help its Afghan allies at a army checkpoint earlier this week.
Now the nation should address yet one more spasm of violence — this time in its capital, and to this point with the assailants unknown.
“We prolong our condolences to the households of the victims & thank the Afghan safety forces for swift response,” Ross Wilson, the US cost d’affaires in Kabul, wrote on Twitter. “We stand with Afghanistan for peace.”