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On August 17, a suicide bombing at a wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan left at least 63 dead and 182 injured.
ISIS was quick to take credit for the attack, and the bomber, Abu Assim al Pakistani, has been linked to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State, reports The Telegraph. ISIS reportedly called the group of weddinggoers “infidels,” a common characterization of Afghan Shia Muslims.
“The suicide bomber stood in the middle of the dancing, clapping crowd as hundreds of Afghan children and adults celebrated a wedding in a joyous release from Kabul’s strain of war. Then, in a flash, he detonated his explosives-filled vest, killing dozens — and Afghanistan grieved again,” reports Global News.
“The wedding guests were dancing and celebrating the party when the blast happened,” a 23-year-old guest told AFP.
“Following the explosion, there was total chaos. Everyone was screaming and crying for their loved ones.”
“There are so many dead and wounded,” survivor Ahmad Omid said. “I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was lying all around the hall,” reports Fox News.
According to The Telegraph, “The blast tore through crowds of well wishers and relatives, the groom told local television. He [the groom] had welcomed guests to the venue called the Dubai City wedding hall, only to see their bodies being carried back out hours later.”
The groom, going by the name Mirwais, says the attack “changed [his] happiness to sorrow.”
“My family, my bride are in shock, they cannot even speak. My bride keeps fainting,” he said. “I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again.”
According to Reuters, this most recent major attack comes in the wake of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban over the possibility of U.S. forces withdrawing from the country on the condition that the Taliban make firm commitments on security, as well as have peace talks with Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government.
Many in Afghanistan now worry whether the cooperation between the two parties will make any difference for the concerned citizens of Afghanistan, who have been in a constant state of war with the U.S. since 2001, and with the Soviets before that.
“The only thing that has kept me on the battlefield has been the US invasion of Afghanistan,” 28-year-old Taliban junior commander Mullah Sardar Muhammad told The Telegraph. “We are close to success. But still this is not victory until we enter Kabul or take over Kabul. I don’t know what will come out from peace talks, my parents pray for the US to leave as soon as possible and see me married.”
However, some older members of the Taliban are more steadfast in their resolve. They, too, want an end to the conflict, yet remain as fundamentalist as ISIS regarding how Afghanistan should be run.
“Peace is possible, but only by endorsing the demands of the Taliban,” said Assad Khan, a senior member of the Taliban’s Haqqani faction.
“If the West wants the Taliban to have a democracy designed by them, in that case I tell you a deal is impossible.
“For me an Islamic regime is a red line, without that Islamic regime a deal for me personally will offend and dishonour those thousands of Taliban and leaders we have sacrificed in the last 25 years,” he continued. “I am doubtful the US and Taliban talks will produce any results, eventually, the fight for Kabul will be defined.”
While some in the Taliban are tired of war and are open to peace in the country, so long as they maintain a semblance of religious authority, such as maintaining rules regarding women’s dress, the Islamic State does not agree with this acquiescence nor does it suffer from any lethargy.
“Islamic State fighters,” explains Reuters, “who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.”
While this attack is the most devastating in recent memory, it is certainly not the first this year: it is not even the first suicide bombing this month.
On August 7, a suicide car bomb attack went off outside a police station in Kabul, wounding killing 14 and wounding another 95. In this instance, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and announced that they had killed and injured many government personnel amidst peace talks.
This is despite the Taliban’s many promises that they will protect Afghanistan’s citizens should the U.S. depart. In both attacks, citizens made up the vast majority of the casualties.