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40 dead in ‘a number of’ Kabul suicide bomb blasts

At least 40 people have been killed and dozens more wounded following multiple blasts at a Shia cultural centre in Kabul.

Najib Danish, a spokesperson for the Afghan interior ministry, said suicide attackers had set off explosions outside of the centre.

Islamic State said it directed the attacks, and claimed through its propaganda outlet Amaq that it targeted the centre with three bombs followed by a suicide bombing.

An injured Afghan man is led from an ambulance to a hospital following blasts at a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul on December 28, 2017. At least 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded in multiple blasts at a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul on December 28, officials said, in the latest deadly violence to hit the Afghan capital. / AFP PHOTO / SHAH MARAI (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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An injured man is led from an ambulance to a hospital following the blasts

Attackers then stormed inside and further blasts were heard in the cultural centre’s basement, the interior ministry suggested.

At least 56 people were also wounded during the attack.

Shia Muslims were inside the cultural centre to commemorate the December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, according to Mr Danish.

Afghan policemen stand guard at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan
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Policemen stand guard at the site of a blast in Kabul

The Taliban quickly denied any involvement in the attacks, and has not typically singled out Shia Muslims for attacks in the course of its insurgency in the Sunni-majority nation.

The cultural centre is located in a Shia neighbourhood in the west of Kabul and was hosting a morning panel discussion.

IS affiliate fighters have been active in the country, targeting the Afghanistan’s Shia minority population which the group considers apostates.

The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, described the attacks as a “crime against humanity” in a statement released by the presidential palace.

He said: “The terrorists have killed our people. The terrorists have attacked our mosques, our holy places and now our cultural centre.”

President Ghani said the attacks were against Islam and “all human values”.

On Twitter, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack had “nothing to do with” the organisation, which they claimed was “very cautious” not to target media centres and education facilities.

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