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.


Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

Updated 18 April 2019
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Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

  • Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking

SOFIA: Bulgarian customs officials confiscated more than 288 kilo (635 pounds) of heroin hidden on a truck from Iran, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The haul is the biggest amount of heroin seized at Bulgaria’s borders this year, the customs agency said.

Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking, the Haskovo regional prosecution said in a statement. They risk jail terms from 15 to 20 years, it added.

The drugs were placed in 144 packages hidden inside the floor and ceiling of a spray painting machine transported inside the truck.

It was found when the vehicle was X-rayed upon entering Bulgaria from Turkey at the southeastern Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint on Sunday, but the seizure was only announced on Thursday.

Bulgaria, which lies on the so-called Balkan drugs route from the Middle East to Western Europe, has seen a several-fold increase in heroin seizures over the past three years.

In 2018, the customs agency confiscated a total of 994 kilos of heroin at the country’s borders, a rise of 13 percent from 2017.