International desk – Suspected Islamist militants have carried out an attack on a Shia cultural organisation in Afghanistan leaving at least 41 people killed and dozens others wounded, media reports said on Thursday.
Although the target of the suicide bomb attack was the Shia centre, the Afghan Voice news agency in Kabul was also hit, according to BBC report.
The so-called Islamic State group claimed credit of the attack.
The interior ministry officials said an explosion at the Shia centre was followed by at least two more blasts. IS has been behind a number of attacks on Shia targets across the country in recent months
The main blast went off inside the Tabayan cultural centre, but offices of Afghan Voice are also at the location of the attack.
Students were among those who had gathered at the Shia centre for a discussion forum. The interior ministry said the event was to mark the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The health ministry’s latest figures say 41 people died and 84 were hurt, with women and children among the casualties.
Student Mohammad Hasan Rezayee told Tolo News: “We were inside the hall in the second row when an explosion from behind took place. After the blast there was fire and smoke inside the building and everyone was pleading for help.”
Another witness, Sayed Jan, told reporters from his hospital bed: “There was a book reading event and academic discussion, and I was one of the participants. During the speech a huge bang was heard and smoke rose from inside the hall.
“My face was burning. I fell down from the chair and I saw the other colleagues around me on the ground. The smoke was everywhere.”
Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at Afghan Voice, said that one reporter at the agency had been killed and two wounded.
Distraught relatives gathered at local hospitals, which are treating the dozens of wounded people.
The Islamic State group said on its propaganda outlet Amaq that it had targeted the Shia centre with a suicide bomber and other bombs.
The Taliban had earlier issued a statement saying they were not involved.
The Taliban are not known to specifically target Shias, although both militant groups have carried out frequent attacks across the country.