20 dead, 160 wounded as blast rips through Kabul protest

Kabul: A powerful explosion on Saturday ripped through crowds of minority Shiite Hazaras in Kabul who had gathered to protest over a power line, killing at least 20 people and leaving 160 others wounded, officials said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, but it comes in the middle of the Taliban’s annual summer offensive, which the insurgents are ramping up after a brief lull during the recent holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The scene of the blast was littered with charred bodies and dismembered limbs, with ambulances struggling to reach the scene as authorities had overnight blocked key intersections with stacked shipping containers to impede movement of the protesters.

“At least 20 people have been killed and another 160 others wounded, but these are initial figures from our hospitals and could change,” health ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi told AFP.

Thousands of demonstrators had gathered to demand that a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan with a large Hazara population.

“The horrific attack on a group of peaceful protestors in Kabul demonstrates the utter disregard that armed groups have for human life,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

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