Mourners attend funeral service for people killed in a suicide attack at a wedding in the Afghan capital of Kabul. At least 63 people were killed and 180 were injured in the attack. Photo by Jawad Jalali/EPA-EFE
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an explosion at a wedding hall in Afghanistan that killed 63 people and injured more than 180 on Saturday evening.
The Afghan interior ministry confirmed the death toll as an IS statement said one of its fighters blew himself up at a "large gathering" in the Afghan capital of Kabul, while others "detonated a parked explosives-laden vehicle" as emergency services arrived at the scene.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said the explosion happened about 10:40 p.m. local time, where guests celebrated the wedding of an Afghan couple. While officials have not given official attendance figures, local media said such weddings can be attended by more than 400 people.
"The explosion was huge," Muhibullah Zeer, a Health Ministry official, said, according to The New York Times. "We are busy with collecting the data and shifting the wounded to hospitals. We don't know how many were killed and how many were wounded."
The largely Shiite Muslim-populated neighborhood where the wedding hall is located has seen its share of suicide bombings, including soft targets like mosques and education centers. Many of those have carried out by the Islamic State, which is Sunni-backed.
The attacks also come as the U.S. and Sunni fundamentalist Taliban continue to hammer out a possible peace deal that will lead to troops leaving Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban agreeing not to allow its country to be used as a base for terrorist organizations.
Many Afghans have remained skeptical of negotiations because the Taliban has refused to meet with the current Afghan government, calling it puppets of the United States.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack as "barbaric" and blamed the Taliban for "providing a platform to terrorists."
The Taliban denied any involvement in Saturday's explosion and also condemned the attack.