Suicide bomber kills 26 in Kabul as Afghans celebrate Persian new year

A suicide bomber struck on the road to a Shi’ite shrine in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 26 people as Afghans celebrated the Persian new year, an official said.

Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said another 18 people were injured in the attack. He said the attacker was on foot.

The attack took place near the Kabul University and a government hospital, around one kilometer away from the Sakhi shrine, where people were gathered to celebrate the new year, said Gen. Daud Amin, Kabul’s police chief.

The Persian new year, known in Afghanistan as Nauruz, is a national holiday, and the country’s minority Shi’ites typically celebrate by visiting shrines. No one immediately claimed the attack, but Afghanistan is home to a powerful Islamic State affiliate that has repeatedly targeted Shi’ites, who the Sunni extremists view as apostates deserving of death.

The Taliban, who mainly target security forces, Afghan officials and foreigners, denied its involvement in the attack.

Mr. Daud said the attacker managed to slip past police checkpoints set up along the road. An investigation into the security breach was under way, and that anyone found to have neglected his duties would be punished.

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