A suicide bomber struck a voter registration center in the Afghan capital on Sunday, killing at least 57 people trying to register for fall elections in an attack claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.
Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said another 119 people were wounded in Sunday's attack, updating an earlier toll. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who had gathered to receive national identification cards.
According to Humayon Mohtaat, head of the population census directorate, the attack on a voter registration office took place in Dasht Barchi, western Kabul, outside the protected diplomatic and governmental "green zone." Dasht Barchi has a large Shiite Hazara population which has been targeted by Daesh terrorists.
The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away from the attack site and damaging several nearby vehicles. Police blocked all roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. Local TV stations broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught people gathered at nearby hospitals seeking word about loved ones.
Majro said there were five small children and 21 women among the dead. More than a dozen children and nearly 50 women were wounded, he said, adding that the tolls could still rise.
The Daesh group has claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite "apostates."
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the deadly attack.
"I wish Allah's mercy upon those who were martyred, speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey my deep condolences to the victims' families," he said in a statement.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the attack in a statement.
"We learned with great sorrow that a terrorist attack perpetrated today at a voters' registration center in Kabul resulted in the loss of lives of many Afghan brothers and sisters and left many others wounded," the statement said.
"We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack targeting the peace and stability of Afghanistan. We wish Allah's mercy upon those who lost their lives, a speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey our condolences to the relatives of the deceased," it added.
Registration began last week for long-awaited local and parliamentary elections, set for October. This is the third attack in the last week against Afghanistan's voter registration process, and the biggest.
Last week, three police officers responsible for guarding voter registration centers in two Afghan provinces were killed by militants, according to authorities.
Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by the Daesh affiliate as well as the more firmly established Taliban since the U.S. and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. Both groups regularly launch attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the government and security forces, and Daesh targeting the country's Shiite minority. Both groups are opposed to democratic elections.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, at least five people were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the northern Baghlan province. Zabihullah Shuja, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said four other people were wounded in Sunday's blast in Puli Khomri, the capital of the province.
The Taliban routinely target security forces and government officials with roadside bombs, which often end up killing civilians.
In the northern Balkh province, a district police chief died of his wounds after being shot Saturday during a gun battle with insurgents, according to Sher Jan Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. He said around a dozen insurgents were also killed in the battle, which is still underway.
Durrani identified the slain commander as Halim Khanjar, police chief for the Char Bolak district.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.
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