At least 40 people have been killed and 30 wounded in a suicide attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The attackers targetted Thursday’s ceremony at a Shia cultural and religious organisation in a western area of the city, causing devastation presumed politically-motivated.
The neighbouring offices of the Afghan Voice news agency have also been targetted. A number of students were in attendance at a morning panel discussion on the premises.
Images shared to social media show bodies lying in a courtyard at the site of the explosions, and witnesses have said dozens upon dozens of injured victims are being taken to hospitals.
Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at the agency, said one reporter had been killed and one injured, among the victims. The first bomb was quickly followed by two more explosions, the interior ministry told the BBC.
Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Agence France-Presse:
The target of the attack was the Tabayan cultural centre. A ceremony was being held to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan when the explosion went off.
An image of the #AfghanVoice news agency office, following this morning's suicide #TerroristAttack on the agency & a cultural center, leaving many dead & wounded, including #journalists in #Kabul. https://t.co/MeQmjhmMCn pic.twitter.com/yUvV9ZTQXn
— Af Journalist Safety (@ajsc_afg) December 28, 2017
A number of students were reportedly attending a discussion forum with media group members at the offices.
The head of Afghan Press, the media branch of the Shia organisation, told the BBC that so far dozens of bodies had been carried from the building and officials have reported dozens more being brought to hospitals.
Responsibility for the attack is yet to be claimed, and Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued a statement on Twitter saying they were not involved.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) December 28, 2017
In recent months, so-called Islamic State has been carrying out attacks on Shia targets across the country. Daesh had claimed responsibility for last month’s attack on Shamshad TV.
In October, at least 39 people were killed in an attack on a mosque belonging to the Shia minority. Ten people were also killed in a suicide bomb attack near the compound of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency in Kabul on Monday.
Our thoughts are with all affected.