Death Toll From Afghan Wedding Blast Rises to 80: Officials Report

August 21, 2019 Updated: August 21, 2019

KABUL—The death toll from a suicide bomb attack on a wedding reception in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has risen to 80, two senior officials said on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

The initial death toll after the Saturday night blast was 63, but some of the wounded have since died, said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman at the interior ministry.

“Seventeen others have succumbed to their injuries in hospital and over 160 are still being treated either in hospitals or at home,” Rahimi said.

It was reported 160 people were wounded at the wedding bombing, where many remain in critical condition and not well enough to undergo surgery, said a second senior interior ministry official.

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Afghans pray near the coffins of victims of the Dubai City wedding hall bombing during a mass funeral in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug.18, 2019. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo)

The suicide bombing renewed concerns that the growing threat by the ISIS affiliate will mean little peace for Afghan civilians despite the U.S.-Taliban negotiations set to end nearly 18 years of fighting.

“We will try and close on remaining issues,” envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter. “We’re ready. Let’s see if the Taliban are as well.”

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that about 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. He wants to bring at least some of them home after a deal with the Taliban.

“We’ve been there for 18 years. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said, adding that “we’re not really fighting; we’re a—almost more of a police force over there.” But Afghanistan remains dangerous and some U.S. presence is needed, he said.

Mirwais Elmi Mohammadi, the 26-year-old groom whose wedding party was attacked, said he is in a complete state of disbelief and has no mental strength to attend the funerals of his relatives and friends.

“To see family members die, or get injured at my wedding is a very heavy burden of grief and regret,” Mohammadi told Reuters.

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Men mourn for the victims of the Dubai City wedding hall bombing during a memorial service at a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 20, 2019. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo)

Many Afghans have canceled or scaled back festivity plans recently demanding the government tighten security to protect the people.

At least 3,812 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019 in the war against terrorist groups, including a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and foreign forces, the United Nations said in July.

Police said more than 25 weddings had been postponed in Kabul after the latest suicide attack renewed fears about the threat posed by ISIS.

“We pay taxes to the government and it is the responsibility of the government to provide us with high security. We have the right to be protected,” said Mohammad Nader Qarghaie, head of the union of wedding halls.

The union, which has over 100 wedding halls and large banquet rooms as members.

A frustrated Mohammad Ashraf, who owns a food catering business in Kabul, said civilians have to be protected.

“Afghans are being used as pawns by all foreign countries and militant groups to prove their strength,” Ashraf said.

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An Afghan volunteer stands guard outside a mosque during a memorial service for the victims of the Dubai City wedding hall bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 20, 2019. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo)

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been leading talks with the Taliban, is expected to arrive in Qatar on Wednesday to resume meetings with Taliban negotiators.

Afterwards, Khalilzad is expected to travel to Kabul to meet with Afghan leaders.

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Rupam Jain

The Associated Press contributed to this article.