Suicide bomber targets gathering of clerics in Kabul calling for peace talks, killing at least eight
A motorcycle suicide bombing targeted a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics on Monday in Kabul, killing at least eight people and injuring nine, the police said.
- About 2,000 members of the council had gathered for the meeting at the Grand Council tent
- Earlier the council called for peace talks and said suicide bombings are sins in Islam
- No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack
Shortly before the attack struck, the clerics had issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, against suicide bombings and urged peace talks to end the Afghan war.
Ghafor Aziz, police chief of Kabul’s 5th District, said the bomber detonated his explosives near the entrance of a compound where the religious body, known as the Afghan Ulema Council, was meeting under the traditional tent of the Loya Jirga, the council of elders.
About 2,000 members of the council had gathered for the meeting at the Grand Council tent erected in the Afghan capital’s 5th District.
The explosion struck as the council was ending and the participants were about to leave, Mr Aziz said.
Mr Aziz added that had the attacker penetrated deeper, the casualty numbers could have been significantly higher.
Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the fatalities included one policeman.
Two policemen were among those injured in the bombing, he added.
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.
Afghan security forces are on high alert again as militant groups continue to up the frequency of attacks. (AP: Rahmat Gul)
Women living nearby were crying as they gathered with their families.
“People were wounded, people were shouting,” a witness told Reuters.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which underlines deteriorating security ahead of parliamentary and district council elections set for October 20.
The Taliban, fighting to restore strict Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster at the hands of US-led troops, denied involvement.
Less than an hour before the attack happened, Ghofranullah Murad, a member of the council, read out a written statement from the gathering saying that innocent Afghan men, women and children are the true victims of the 17-year-long war.
“The ongoing war in Afghanistan is illegal and has no root in Sharia [Islamic] law,” the statement said.
“It is illegal according to Islamic laws and it does nothing but shed the blood of Muslims.”
“We, the religious Ulema, call on the Taliban to respond positively to the peace offer of the Afghan Government in order to prevent further bloodshed in the country,” it added.
The fatwa also said that killing people by any means — such as bombs and suicide attacks — as well as violent acts, including robbery and kidnapping, count as sins in Islam.
The council also called for peace negotiations between the two sides — the first time they have issued such an appeal.