- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - An hand grenade attack on an Afghan wedding ceremony wounded at least 20 people, including several children, a provincial official said Sunday.

At least one of the injured children was in critical condition, said Adel Haider, a spokesman for the police chief of the eastern Khost province, which borders Pakistan.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday night’s attack.

There was no evidence that the Taliban were behind the attack, although they have a strong presence in the area. Haider said the Taliban’s ban on music when they ruled Afghanistan led him to believe that they could have been the culprits.

But it’s also common in that part of Afghanistan to settle personal vendettas with such attacks. Haider said police are investigating all possible motives and so far no one has come forward with any information about tribal rivalries involving the wedding party.



All of the injured wedding guests were men, but it was not immediately clear if the groom was injured in the attack, Haider said.

Last August, a suicide bomber from the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan killed 63 people at a wedding in Kabul, the deadliest attack in the capital in 2019.

The Taliban, which the U.S. hopes will help curb the IS affiliate’s rise, condemned the attack as “forbidden and unjustifiable.”

The Taliban control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks. They usually target Afghan and U.S. forces, but scores of civilians die in the crossfire.

The Taliban and the U.S. are currently holding peace talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. The negotiations have become bogged down over a mechanism that will end or substantially reduce hostilities.

A reduction in violence would allow a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement to be signed, letting America bring its troops home after 18 years of war. The peace deal would also start negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict to determine what the country’s post-war landscape would look like.

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