Afghanistan’s Health Ministry says at least 61 people were killed and 207 others wounded in two bomb blasts in the capital Kabul.
The blasts were carried out at the Deh Mazang Square, where thousands of Shia Hazara demonstrators had gathered from early morning in protest against a controversial power line project.
The Daesh Takfiri terrorists claimed responsibility for the bombing.
According to police, one of the attackers successfully detonated his explosive, while the second one only managed to defectively explode himself. A third assailant was shot dead by security forces before he could detonate his vest.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombings and said he was “deeply saddened” by the terrorist attack.
“Opportunist terrorists went among the protesters and set off explosions that killed and wounded a number of our countrymen including security and defense personnel.”
“Peaceful protest is the right of every citizen,” the Afghan president added.
The demonstrators were chanting “Justice” and “Death to discrimination” during the protest.
Demonstrators from Afghanistan’s Hazara Shia minority attend a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2016. (Reuters)
The power line project, which is scheduled to be implemented by 2018, would see the establishment of a 500-kilovolt transmission line from Turkmenistan to Kabul.
Originally, the line was to pass through the impoverished provinces of Bamyan and Wardak, which host large Hazara populations. However, it was later rerouted, with the government alleging that the redesigned course cut costs.
The Hazara say they want the line to pass through Bamyan and Wardak, west of Kabul, where many of them live, to ensure their power supply.
The Hazara community, the poorest of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, accounts for about nine percent of Afghanistan’s population and is the country’s third-largest minority.