Explosions in Afghan capital Kabul kill six during new year festival - UPDATED

Thu 21 Mar 2019 08:50 GMT | 12:50 Local Time

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Multiple explosions in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday killed six people and wounded 23 in an attack during celebrations to mark the Persian new year, government spokesmen said, Reuters reported.

The attacks came on Nowruz, an ancient Persian festival to mark the start of spring that is widely celebrated in many parts of Afghanistan but has also faced opposition from some hardline Islamists, who say it is un-Islamic.

There were conflicting reports about of the cause of the blasts near the Kart-e Sakhi shrine, in a heavily Shi’ite Muslim area in the west of Kabul.

An interior ministry spokesman said mortar bombs had been fired. The defense ministry said in a post on twitter that three rockets were fired at civilian homes and Nowruz gatherings.

The defense ministry said police had arrested the attacker and secured the area.

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Several people were feared killed or injured after three blasts hit New Year celebrations near a shrine in the western side of Kabul on Thursday, witnesses said, Xinhua reported.

"We heard a huge blast at the main traffic circle in Jamal Mina neighborhood at 09:30 a.m. and the blast was followed by two consecutive explosions at the area, which is called Kart-e-Sakhi," eyewitness Mohammad Jafar told Xinhua.

The bomb attacks came as Afghan security forces have beefed up security across the country ahead of Nawroz Festival celebrations falling on Thursday which marks the Afghan New Year.

"The area was closed for traffic as New Year celebrations were underway in Sakhi Shrine but the blasts occurred as big crowd of people were walking toward the shrine," Jafar added.

"One of the roads of the square leads to Sakhi Shrine. The whole place has now been sealed off by security forces," he said.

Several warning shots were also fired by the security forces.

"There are causalities. We still cannot provide details on causalities," a police officer told Xinhua near the site.

Rescue teams, police and security forces from nearby also rushed to the site.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.

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