Tue, Jun 05, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Clerics’ Kabul meeting attacked

AP, KABUL

Security officials secure the road leading to the venue of the Afghan Ulema Council meeting after a suicide bomb attack in Kabul yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

A suicide bombing yesterday targeted a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics in Kabul, killing at least seven people and wounding nine, the police said.

Shortly before the attack, the clerics had issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and urged peace talks to end the Afghan war.

Ghafor Aziz, police chief of Kabul’s 5th District, said the bomber detonated his explosives near the entrance of Kabul’s Polytechnic University, where the religious body, known as the Afghan Ulema Council, was meeting under the traditional tent of the Loya Jirga, the council of elders.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was not immediately clear how many of the clerics were among those killed.

Aziz said that had the attacker penetrated deeper, the casualty numbers could have been higher.

Afghan Ministry of the Interior spokesman Najib Danish said the seven fatalities included one policeman, and two more were among the wounded.

About 2,000 members of the council had gathered for the meeting at the tent erected in the 5th District

The explosion struck about 11:30am, as the participants were about to leave, Aziz said.

The council appealed to the Afghan government forces and the Taliban and other militants to halt the fighting and agree on a ceasefire. It also called for peace negotiations between the two sides.

It was the first time the council has issued such an appeal.

Less than an hour before the attack, Ghofranullah Murad, a member of the council, read out a written statement from the gathering saying that innocent Afghan men, women and children were the true victims of the 17-year-long war.

“The ongoing war in Afghanistan is illegal and has no root in Shariah [Islamic] law,” the statement said. “It is illegal according to Islamic laws and it does nothing but shed the blood of Muslims.”

“We the religious Ulema call on the Taliban to respond positively to the peace offer of the Afghan government in order to prevent further bloodshed in the country,” it added.

The fatwa also said that killing people by any means — such as bombs and suicide attacks — as well as violent acts, including robbery and kidnapping, count as sins in Islam.

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