Number of deaths in Afghan wedding blast rises to 80: Officials

Kabul: The death toll from a suicide bomb attack on a wedding reception in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, has risen to 80, two senior officials said on Wednesday.

The initial death toll after the Saturday night blast was 63, but some of the wounded had died in hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman at the interior ministry.

"Seventeen others have succumbed to their injuries in hospital and over 160 are still being treated either in hospitals or at home," Rahimi said.

Relatives of those killed in the suicide bombing at a Kabul wedding on Saturday night began to bury the dead on Sunday. The Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for blast that killed at least 63 people.

Among the 160 people wounded at the wedding blast, many are in critical condition, some not well enough to undergo surgery, said a second senior interior ministry official.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Many Afghans have cancelled or scaled back plans for weddings and other festivities in recent days and are demanding that the government tightens security to protect society.

At least 3,812 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019 in the war against militant groups, including a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and foreign forces, the United Nations said in July.

Police said more than 25 weddings had been postponed in Kabul after the latest suicide attack renewed fears about the threat posed by IS at a time when the United States and the Taliban appear to be nearing a deal on a US troop withdrawal.

"We pay taxes to the government and it is the responsibility of the government to provide us with high security. We have the right to be protected," said Mohammad Nader Qarghaie, head of the union of wedding halls.

The union has more than 100 wedding halls and large banquet rooms as members.

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