Nearly 50 die as suicide bomber targets Islamic gathering in Kabul: Official

The Afghan president called the act ‘unforgivable’ as the Taliban distanced themselves from the attack. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Nearly 50 die as suicide bomber targets Islamic gathering in Kabul: Official

  • The suicide bomber was able to sneak into a wedding hall in Kabul where hundreds of religious scholars and clerics had gathered
  • No one immediately claimed the attack, but both the Taliban and a local Daesh affiliate have targeted religious scholars before

KABUL: Some 50 Islamic religious figures were killed on Tuesday in the Afghan capital in a suicide attack at a religious function, summoned for marking the birth of Islam’s prophet Mohammad (PBUH), officials said.

The interior ministry spokesman, Najib Danesh, told Arab News that nearly 70 other participants were wounded in the incident which happed inside the hall of a large hotel where the function was going on after evening’s prayers.

“It was summoned by the Ulema council and scholars from many parts of the country had gathered in it to recite Koran and mark Milad Sharif,” he said.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, calling it as unforgivable act. He ordered Wedneday as national mourning day when Afghanistan’s flag will be at half mast.

Over 20 of the scores wounded in the attack were in critical condition, public health ministry officials said.

The Taliban, the main insurgent group, which relies on suicide attacks against government and foreign military and civilian targets, distanced themselves from the attack and condemned it as a crime. 

The function of was held by Sunni sect of Islam’s followers, residents said.

Sirens of ambulances could be heard in several parts of the city. Images on social media showed part of the badly damaged hall of the hotel with body parts strewn in various directions.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But affiliates of the Islamic State, have repeatedly targeted mosques and worshipping sites of Shiites in recent years in Afghanistan.

The network Shiites as deviants and Tuesday’s attack is the first of its kind against a Sunni religious gathering in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people had participated in the gathering and there were fears of rise of casualties.


Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

Updated 21 min 24 sec ago
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Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

  • Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition
  • A series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections alleged that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade

MANILA: Opponents of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed shock and outrage on Friday at police moves to charge dozens of them with sedition, calling it persecution aimed at stamping out scrutiny of his increasingly powerful rule.
Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition for orchestrating a series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections. The videos feature a hooded man alleging that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade, which they deny.
The man, who had said he was a witness, later surrendered and appeared with police on television to say his claims were false and that he was cajoled into making the videos by opposition members. They included the vice president, lawyers, Catholic priests, a former attorney general, and incumbent and former lawmakers, the man said.
The justice department is looking into the complaint, which is the latest move against Duterte’s detractors who say the aim is to create a power monopoly for a president who already enjoys a legislative super-majority and a public approval rating of about 80 percent.
Duterte insists he is open to challenges but has shown no qualms about threatening high-profile critics, several of whom he said last month he would jail if they tried to impeach him.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte had no involvement in the police sedition complaint.
“We have nothing to do with this case, not at all, absolutely nothing,” he told news channel ANC. “Let the judicial process do its work.”
Antonio Trillanes, a former senator and Duterte’s strongest critic, described the complaint as “political persecution and harassment” intended to stifle democratic dissent.
A spokesman for Vice President Leni Robredo, who was not Duterte’s running mate and was elected separately, called the complaint “completely baseless.” Her party ally Senator Francis Pangilinan said it was part of a series of moves toward removing her from office.
Leila de Lima, an anti-Duterte senator detained on drugs charges, said it was “hogwash, pure hogwash,” and Samira Gutoc, a candidate in recent Senate elections, urged the police not to become partisan.
“I really am baffled,” Gutoc said of being accused of involvement.