ISIL suicide bomber attacks Kabul voting centre, killing 48 as civilians lined up to get ID cards

The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away from the attack site and damaging several nearby vehicles

Afghan residents weep for their relatives following a suicide bombing attack at the Isteqlal Hospital in Kabul on April 22, 2018

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

KABUL — A suicide bomber struck a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital on Sunday, killing at least 48 people in an attack claimed by ISIL.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said another 112 people were wounded in Sunday’s attack, updating an earlier toll. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who had gathered to receive national identification cards.

The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away from the attack site and damaging several nearby vehicles. Police blocked all roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. Local TV stations broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught people gathered at nearby hospitals seeking word about loved ones

ISIL has claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite “apostates.”

A relative of a victim cries outside a voter registration centre which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 22, 2018. RAHMAT GUL/AP PHOTO

Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in October.

Last week, three police officers responsible for guarding voter registration centres in two Afghan provinces were killed by militants, according to authorities.

Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by the ISIL affiliate as well as the more firmly established Taliban since the U.S. and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. Both groups regularly launch attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the government and security forces, and IS targeting the country’s Shiite minority.

Both groups want to establish a harsh form of Islamic rule in Afghanistan, and are opposed to democratic elections.

People gather outside a voter registration centre which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 22, 2018. RAHMAT GUL/AP PHOTO

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, at least five people were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the northern Baghlan province. Zabihullah Shuja, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said four other people were wounded in Sunday’s blast in Puli Khomri, the capital of the province.

Afghan security personnel stand outside a voter registration centre after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 22, 2018. RAHMAT GUL/AP PHOTO

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