White House condemns Afghanistan attack

An Afghan boy walks through the the scene of a suicide attack on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul)

The White House is condemning a "barbaric" attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed at least 41 people.

Posted: Dec 28, 2017 5:03 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Latest on developments in Afghanistan (all times local):

12:45 a.m.

The White House is condemning a "barbaric" attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed at least 41 people.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that "The United States strongly condemns today's barbaric attack at a cultural and social center in Kabul, Afghanistan, and offers its deepest condolences to the victims and their families."

The White House earlier said that President Donald Trump was briefed on the Thursday's attack.

Sanders says "the United States stands firmly with the government and people of Afghanistan and will work closely with the National Unity Government to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice."

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11:55 p.m.

An Islamic State suicide bomber has struck a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, killing at least 41 people and underscoring the extremist group's growing reach in Afghanistan even as its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria has been dismantled.

The attack may have targeted the pro-Iran Afghan Voice news agency housed in the two-story building. The Sunni extremists of IS view Shiite Muslims as apostates and have repeatedly attacked Afghanistan's Shiite minority and targets linked to neighboring Iran.

The attack wounded more than 80 people, many of whom suffered severe burns.

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10:15 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on the Islamic State attack on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The White House also says Trump is continuing to monitor the situation, with chief of staff John Kelly providing updates to the president.

The attack, which killed more than 40 people and wounded scores more, was the latest in a series of assaults by a powerful local affiliate of the extremist group.

The Afghanistan branch, which calls itself the Khorasan Province, has stepped up attacks over the past year even as the extremists' self-styled caliphate in Syria and Iraq has collapsed.

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3:40 p.m.

Authorities say an attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center in the Afghan capital Kabul has left at least 41 people dead and 84 wounded.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said an unknown number of suicide attackers set off an explosion outside the center before carrying out an attack inside. They set off explosive devices in the basement of the building where scores of people had gathered to mark the December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, he said.

Wahid Mujro, spokesman for the public health ministry, says the toll is at 41 killed and 84 wounded.

The Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility.

The center is located in the Shiite-dominated Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in the west of the capital.

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3:20 p.m.

The Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan, in a statement on its Aamaq news agency, says it carried out the attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center that killed at least 35 and wounded another 56.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said three bombs were used in the Thursday attack as well as a single suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the center.

The claim reflects witness reports that one bomber sneaked into the center and exploded his device. Other explosions occurred outside the two-story building, which also houses the pro-Iranian Afghan Voice news agency.

Aamaq in its statement also claimed the center was funded by Iran and propagating Shiite beliefs.

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1:20 p.m.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has called the attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center in Kabul a "crime against humanity."

In a statement released by the presidential palace, Ghani says: "The terrorist have killed our people. The terrorists have attacked our mosques, our holy places and now our cultural center."

He called them attacks as against Islam and "all human values."

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1 p.m.

Authorities say an attack on a Shiite Muslim cultural center in the Afghan capital Kabul has left at least 35 people dead and 20 wounded.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish says an unknown number of suicide attackers set off an explosion outside the center before storming it. They then set off explosive devices in the basement of the building where scores of people had gathered to mark the December 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union, he said.

The center is located in the Shiite-dominated Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in the west of the capital.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed several brutal attacks on Shiites in recent months in Kabul.

___

9:53 a.m.

An Afghan official says a roadside mine has exploded, killing six children in northern Balkh province.

Dawlat Abad District Gov. Mohammad Karim said Thursday the powerful mine killed six shepherd children Wednesday ages 10, 9 and 8.

No one immediately took responsibility for the attack but Karim blames the Taliban, saying the insurgents planted the mine to target Afghan officials and security forces.

Afghanistan has the highest number of mine victims in the world, which along with other roadside bombs kill or wound an estimated 140 people every month.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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