Burials are taking place in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul Sunday after what was supposed to be a joyful day ended up in tragedy when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-filled vest in the middle of a wedding celebration. The local Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 63 people and wounded 182 in what was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year. The attack took place in a western Kabul neighborhood that is mostly populated with the minority Shiite Hazara community.
Survivors said the bomber was standing close to a stage where children and adults were happily dancing when he detonated his vest. Both the bride and groom survived the attack. “My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting,” the groom, Mirwais Elmi, told a local news channel. “I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.” The bride’s father said 14 members of his family were killed in the attack.
The suicide bombing immediately brought to the forefront long standing concerns by Afghans of how safe they will be if the United States and the Taliban reach an agreement to end the nearly two-decade-long war. “Despite American assurances, many Afghans fear that the fragile country could see further deterioration if the troop withdrawal is not gradual enough to test the Taliban’s genuine interest in reconciliation,” notes the New York Times. The Taliban condemned Saturday’s attack as “forbidden and unjustifiable” and denied any involvement.
Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, took to Twitter to condemn the attack and send condolences to the victims. But he also said “Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists.”