ISIL claims responsibility for bombing of Shiite center in Kabul

World Today

An Afghan boy walks at the scene of a suicide attack on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul)

An ISIL suicide bomber killed more than 40 and injured dozens in an attacks on a Shiite cultural center in Afghanistan’s capital.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.
Follow Jim Spellman on Twitter @jimspellmanTV

Hundreds had gathered at the center for an academic seminar. The attacker is believed to have used a suicide vest and other bombs. ISIL has claimed credit for the attack.

“There was a book reading program and academic dialogue, 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,” Sayed Jan, who was wounded in the attack said.

The center also houses the Afghan Voice News Agency. It’s not clear if the news outlet was specifically targeted. A journalist working in the center described the attack.

Ali Reza Ahmadi is a Journalist at “Our Afghanistan” daily newspaper. He was working in the center when the bomb exploded.

“When the explosion went off, we escaped from the room where we were working, and went to the rooftop. We saw the smoke and flames coming from the basement. We went to help and see what was happening there. When we got there, the situation was very bad,” said Ahmadi.

In a statement released online, ISIL claimed credit for the attack, saying the center was used to recruit fighters taking on ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The predominantly Sunni ISIL has targeted Shiite Muslims repeatedly in recent years. The terrorist group has seen major defeats on the ground in Iraq and Syria but has become a growing threat in Afghanistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump has increased the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to about 15,000, and in a speech earlier this month, he claims the strategy to defeat ISIL, also known as ISIS, is working.

“We are making a lot of progress in Afghanistan just like we have with getting ISIS out of Iraq, getting ISIS out of Syria. We are knocking the hell out of them,” Trump said early in December.

But the troops have been largely focused on fighting ISIL fighters in the North and East, while the terrorist group has increased its attacks in urban areas of Afghanistan, including the capital.