Eight people die in suicide attack at wedding in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three men belonging to a Persian-language version of the Taliban dressed in suicide vests shot dead two Afghan men and a woman inside a crowded room where more than 100 people…

Eight people die in suicide attack at wedding in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three men belonging to a Persian-language version of the Taliban dressed in suicide vests shot dead two Afghan men and a woman inside a crowded room where more than 100 people had gathered for a wedding celebration in this southern Afghan province, officials said Wednesday.

The killings Tuesday evening – carried out with handguns and the sound of automatic rifles – were the latest of multiple mass attacks in Afghanistan, including the May 21 massacre of more than 350 worshippers at a Shiite mosque, which killed more than 200.

The attack was claimed by the Haqqani network, which operates independently of the Taliban and is often used as a proxy by Pakistan to strike militants on Afghan soil.

Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism chief and the main U.S. commander in the country both condemned the attack. The counter-terrorism chief, Hafiz Abdul Rahim Wardak, offered condolences on the victims’ behalf, and Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, in a statement called the attack “cowardly.”

The attack on the wedding party took place in Kandahar, the main city in the southern province of Helmand, and was started by three men wearing black long-sleeved shirts, said Abdul Waheed, the mayor of the capital city of Lashkar Gah.

“Our security forces have found and arrested one of the bombers,” he said. He said the other two were still on the run.

The victims included two men in their 40s, two women and a woman who was born in 1999.

“My brother ran to the room when the explosion took place and was killed. There are seven wounded, two of them seriously,” the victim’s brother, Munawwar ul Haq, said. “If the Taliban had not killed us, my brother would have been among those found alive.”

Police also found three pistols and a bottle of explosives. The mayor of the capital city of Lashkar Gah, Abdul Waheed Wardak, said he did not believe the victims had been killed for playing music or acting as celebrants.

According to Abdul Rahim Khan, an official with the NDS, intelligence agency in Helmand, the three bombers wore Kalashnikov assault rifles, and that Afghan police had contacted the Pakistani Taliban in order to have the two militants from Pakistan that they suspected had been involved in the wedding killed, but they had not been handed over.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack Tuesday evening on the wedding party, which was being conducted by a custom house owned by a tribal leader.

“The Afghan government will never leave their people in pain,” Ghani said in a statement.

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