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Suicide attack claimed by IS leaves over 40 dead in Kabul

KABUL: Forty-one people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide blast targeting Shias in Kabul on Thursday, of ficials said.

The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the gruesome assault, which happened in the same building as the Afghan Voice Agency, a media outlet which earlier reports had suggested could have been the target.

Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the attack the deadliest since a Shia mosque bombing in October that killed more than 50 worshippers was aimed at the Tabayan Cultural Centre belonging to the Shia community in the west of the city.

`The suicide attacker detonated himself during a gathering at TabayanCultural Centre causing a lot of casualties,` Mr Rahimi said.

The main explosion was followed by two smaller bomb blasts as victims and survivors were leaving the scene.

Rahimi said the gathering was organised to mark the 38th anniversary of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. An Afghan Voice Agency journalist said that more than 100 people were at the event in the building`s basement.

There were chaotic scenes at the Istiqlal Hospital where ambulances and police pickups brought victims, including women and children. Many of them had suffered severe burns to their f aces and bodies, as well as shrapnel wounds, reporters said.

Visibly distressed relatives searching for their loved ones inside the medical facility slapped their heads in fury as they cried and cursed the government for seemingly being unable to end the regular carnage on their streets.Some were so distraught they crawled on the ground pulling their hair.

The reporters saw more than a dozen badly burned bodies lying on the floor in a room inside the hospital and wooden cof fins being delivered so f amilies could take away the bodies of their loved ones.

Kabul has become one of the deadliest places in war-torn Afghanistan for civilians in recent months, as the Taliban step up their attacks and IS seeks to expand its presence in the country.

Thursday`s assault comes days after a suicide bomber killed six civilians in an attack near an Afghan intelligence agency compound in the city, which was also claimed by IS.

The group has gained ground in Afghanistan since it first appeared in the region in 2015, and has scaled up its attacks in Kabul.-AFP