Sun, 22 Sep 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the August 17 bombing of a wedding reception in Kabul in his congratulatory message on Afghanistan's 100th anniversary of independence.

"Sadly Afghanistan's 100-year history has also been marked by conflict. The terrorist attack against a Kabul wedding hall this weekend is an attack against humanity," the message said on August 18 on the eve of Afghanistan's independence day.

Pompeo said Afghans have much "to be proud of as you celebrate a century of resilience and cultural diversity."

He mentioned improvements the country has seen over the last 20 years in "education, health, infrastructure, women's rights, economic opportunity, and media freedom."

Pompeo promised to "redouble our commitment" toward a "peaceful future."

Sixty-three people were killed and 182 others injured in the suicide bombing for which the radical militant group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called the attack "barbaric."

It was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year and came with Washington and the fundamentalist Taliban reportedly nearing a deal to end a nearly 18-year war.

'I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul,' Ghani said in a tweet. 'My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred.'

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad took to Twitter to denounce the 'heinous attack.'

"We must accelerate the Afghan Peace Process including intra-Afghan negotiations. Success here will put Afghans in a much stronger position to defeat' the IS group, he wrote in a separate tweet.

The bombing hit a district of the Afghan capital more populated by Shi'ites than many other parts of the city.

IS and its sympathizers and affiliates have repeatedly targeted Shi'a in addition to other victims since they became active in Afghanistan in 2015.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said women and children were among the wounded after the bomb struck at the Dubai City wedding hall on Kabul's west side.

"Unfortunately, the blast caused civilian casualties," he said.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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