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14 killed in Kabul suicide blast near clerics’ gathering

By Agencies
June 05, 2018

KABUL: A motorcycle suicide bomber killed 14 people near a gathering of Muslim clerics in the Afghan capital on Monday after they had issued a fatwa against suicide bombings, officials said, in the latest in a series of attacks to hit Kabul.

The bomb exploded at the entrance to a giant tent, near residential buildings in the west of Kabul, after most the clerics had left, a witness said. Women living nearby were crying as they gathered with their families.

The bomb killed seven clerics, four security officers and three people whose identities were unknown, a senior government official said. More than 2,000 religious scholars from across the country began meeting on Sunday at the Loya Jirga (Grand Council) tent, denouncing years of conflict. They issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, outlawing suicide bombings and demanding that Taliban militants restore peace to allow foreign troops to leave.

Meanwhile, police said suicide bombing incident took place Monday near a gathering of top clerics in Kabul, roughly one hour after the group proclaimed such attacks a sin. The blast in the western part of the city, near universities and a police academy, was claimed by the Islamic State group and is the latest demonstration of the militants´ chilling ability to carry out attacks in the heart of Kabul, which is now the deadliest place in the country for civilians. The bomber detonated at about 11:30 am at the gates of Kabul´s Polytechnic University, police and officials said. The Loya Jirga tent where thousands of clerics from across Afghanistan were meeting is on the campus.

"According to our initial information, seven people have been killed including a policeman. Nine others have been injured, including two policemen," police spokesmanHashmat Stanikzai told media. Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed it was a suicide attack, and said the bomber had been on foot when he detonated his explosives at the university gate. Police spokesman Stanikzai said the blast was outside the tent.

IS claimed the attack via their Amaq propaganda agency. Both the Taliban and IS have stepped up their headline-grabbing assaults on the heavily fortified capital in recent months. Shortly after the first blast, a second explosion was heard, but police said it was a sticky bomb in a market several kilometres away which wounded an unspecified number of civilians. The Ulema Council -- seen by the militants as having some links to the government -- termed suicide attacks and explosions "haram", or prohibited in Islam. They have issued such fatwas in the past. "Executing, financing and supporting such acts are against Sharia law," they said in a statement tweeted by the government. Fighting in the name of jihad in Afghanistan, where the majority of the population is Muslim, has "no legitimacy" in Islam, they added, calling for peace talks. "As the war in which tens of people die on a daily basis is prolonged... then both sides, the government and the Taliban, should come to the negotiation table and put an end to the calamity."

Meanwhile, Pakistan strongly condemns the suicide attack that targeted a congregation of religious scholars in Kabul on Monday. Foreign Office in a statement said, “We are grieved at the loss of precious innocent lives in this barbaric act of terrorism. We express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the early recovery of the injured.”

Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expresses solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan in this hour of grief and sorrow, statement said.