Explosion at Kabul gathering kills dozens

Afghan policeman keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul Afghanistan

The Afghan television station, Tolo News, citing a number of eyewitnesses, said at least 1,000 people were present in the hall at the time of the explosion, which is the deadliest of such attacks in Kabul in recent months.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said another 60 people were wounded in the attack, which took place as Muslims around the world marked the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad.

The death toll was expected to rise.

"Initial information suggests it was caused by a suicide bomber", interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

Last November a suicide bomber killed over 14 people when he detonated himself outside a Kabul wedding hall, as supporters of a local governor gathered for a political event inside.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the blast.

Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by Islamist militants since most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops withdrew in 2014.

Police sealed off roads leading to the scene of the attack.

A witness outside Kabul's Emergency Hospital told the site "there were a lot of wounded people, I saw at least ten wounded people brought here".

Made up of the country's top clerics, the council had issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks.

The Kabul government now controls only 56 percent of Afghan territory, down from 72 percent in 2015, according to a USA government report issued this month.

The Taliban carry out near-daily attacks targeting security forces and government officials across the country, while the IS affiliate has bombed gatherings of minority Shiites, killing hundreds of civilians.

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