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Afghanistan: Suicide bomber kills 63 people in attack on wedding reception

KABUL : A suicide bomber killed 63 people and wounded 182 in an attack on a packed wedding reception in the Afghan capital on Saturday night, the interior ministry said, as violence shows no sign of easing despite hopes for a deal on a U.S. troop withdrawal.

The attack came as the Taliban and the United States are trying to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government.

The Taliban denied responsibility and condemned the blast at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi’ite neighborhood, packed with people celebrating a marriage.

Women and children were among the casualties, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on Sunday.

But President Ashraf Ghani said the militants could not escape blame for the “barbaric” attack.

“The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame for they provide platform for terrorists,” he said in a post on Twitter.

The blast follows a bomb attack on a mosque in Pakistan on Friday that killed a brother of Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. No one claimed responsibility for that blast, which killed four people and wounded about 20.

Pictures on social media from the scene of the Kabul blast showed bodies strewn amid overturned table and chairs at the wedding hall, with dark blood stains on the carpet.

Resident Mohammad Hasan rushed to the scene after the blast rocked the neighborhood.

“I saw many women and children screaming and crying,” he said.

Wedding halls have become a big business in Kabul as the Afghan economy slowly picks up and families spend more on celebrations. Big, brightly lit halls now line some suburban streets of the city.

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