More than 40 dead after ISIS suicide bomber attacks Shiite cultural center near Kabul

More than 40 dead after ISIS suicide bomber attacks Shiite cultural center near Kabul
An Afghan man runs away as dust blows in the aftermath of the third blast at a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul Thursday. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 41 are dead and dozens more injured after a suicide bomber stormed a Shia cultural center Thursday in a heavily Shiite Muslim area west of Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.

The Afghan Voice news agency housed on the second floor of the building was also hit.

Who’s responsible for the attack?

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility. In a statement on its propaganda outlet Amaq, the group said it had targeted the Shia center, BBC News reported.

The terrorist group said it used three bombs in the assault as well as a single suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the center, according to Australian Broadcast News.

The Taliban issued a statement saying it was not involved.

What do we know about the explosion?

There were at least three explosions. The second and third blasts occurred about 10 minutes after the first one, according to ABC.

The attack happened during a morning panel discussion on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Center.

What do we know about the injured and dead?

Forty-one are dead, including four women and two children, ABC reported.

At least 84 are wounded, most suffering severe burns, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health said.

“We were shocked and didn’t feel the explosion at first but we saw smoke coming up from below,” Ali Reza Ahmadi, a journalist at the agency who was sitting in his office above the center when the attack took place told Reuters. “Survivors were coming out. I saw one boy with cuts to his feet and others with burns all over their faces. About 10 minutes after the first explosion, there was another one outside on the street and then another one.”

“There was a book reading event and academic discussion, and I was one of the participants. During the speech, a huge bang was heard and smoke rose from inside the hall,” Sayed Jan told reporters from his hospital bed, according to BBC News. “My face was burning. I fell down from the chair and I saw the other colleagues around me on the ground. The smoke was everywhere.”

What are the reactions to this latest attack?

• “Terrorists have been committing unpardonable acts of terror which hit religious locations and cultural centers while paying no respect to Islamic values and humanity,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said a statement. “Terrorists must understand that the Afghan people, being committed to nourishing national unity, promoting empathy and fully cognizant of the conspiracies of the enemies, are standing along with its government as a united force against the baleful plots and conspiracies of the enemies.”

• “I strongly condemn today’s horrific and indiscriminate attack on civilians at a cultural and social center in Kabul,” U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass said in a statement pledging continued support to Afghanistan. “This incident once again demonstrates the depravity of those who seek to undermine peace and stability in Afghanistan.  We remain confident the Afghan government and people, supported by their friends and partners, will defeat those behind these terrible acts.”

When was the last attack in Kabul?

Last month, a local group known as Islamic State in Khorasan claimed responsibility for an attack on a private television station in Kabul.

Prior to Thursday’s attack, there have been at least 12 attacks on Shiite targets since 2016. Nearly 700 have been killed or wounded, according to United Nations data, ABC reported.