Seven killed as gathering condemning violence targeted in Kabul

The bomber detonated his explosives near the entrance of a compound where the religious body known as the Afghan Ulema Council was meeting

Seven killed as gathering condemning violence targeted in Kabul

Militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Kabul but security officials say several are much more likely to be the work of the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Taliban. It later said a total of 18 people were wounded in the explosion. The bomb went off as the meeting was ending and attendees were preparing to leave.

At least 12 people have been killed in a suicide attack targeting Muslim leaders and scholars who had gathered in a tent near the Polytechnic University in the capital, officials said. "Nine others have been injured, including two policemen".

The bombing occurred at the entrance of the compound near a residential area in the west of Kabul as the participants were leaving the meeting, said police chief Ghafor Aziz. A suicide bomber and all seven gunmen involved also died in the assault, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group. It was the first time the council has issued such an appeal.

Reading out a statement from the gathering, council member Ghofranullah Murad said that "the ongoing war in Afghanistan is illegal and has no root in Shari'a law".

The religious scholars repeated their call on the Taliban to accept the Afghan government's "unconditional" peace offer.

Hours before the bombing, the council issued an Islamic ruling, or a fatwa, declaring that suicide attacks are "haram", forbidden under Islamic law.

Suicide attacks in Afghanistan are frequently condemned as fanatical and immoral, especially when civilians are killed, but insurgents view the tactic as their most effective weapon. The Taliban has previously accused the council of being a puppet organization for the western-backed national government in Kabul.

Both militant groups seek to establish strict Islamic rule in the country.

Though the USA formally ended the combat mission, thousands of American troops remain in Afghanistan in a counterterrorism and supporting role. The US-backed government in Kabul has been found itself increasingly struggling against terrorist assaults since the withdrawal of the majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014. The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

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