At least 61 killed in explosion at protest in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 23 (UPI) — The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an explosion during a protest in Afghanistan, which killed at least 61 people and left at least 200 more injured.

According to the BBC, the attack targeted thousands from the Shia Hazara minority who gathered for a protest at Deh Mazang square in the capital city of Kabul.

“Two fighters from Islamic State detonated explosive belts at a gathering of Shi’ites in…the city of Kabul in Afghanistan,” IS-linked news agency Amaq said, according to Aljazeera.

TOLO News reports that three suicide bombers were present, but security forces killed the third before he was able to detonate his explosives.

The group had gathered, chanting “death to discrimination,” in protest of the government’s decision to a 500kV power transmission line from Turkmenistan to Kabul power line would no longer pass through the provinces of Bamiyan and Wardak, which contain large Hazara populations.

Al Jazeera reported the explosion took place suddenly, as the protest was entering its final minutes.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack and defended the people’s right to protest peacefully.

“Peaceful protest is the right of every citizen, but opportunist terrorists infiltrated the crowds and carried out the attack, killing and injuring a number of citizens including some security forces,” he said.

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