KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed at least 31 people among a crowd in Kabul celebrating the Persian New Year on Wednesday, according to Afghan government officials.
Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, initially said that a suicide bomber on foot detonated his explosives in front of the Ali Abad Hospital, in the Kart-e Sakhi area of western Kabul. Wahid Majrooh, the spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, put the death toll at 31, with 65 wounded.
There were reports that the bomber had tried but failed to reach an even bigger crowd celebrating the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz, in front of a nearby Shiite shrine in Kart-e Sakhi.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to a report on its website, Amaq, as monitored by the SITE Intelligence Group. The group’s local affiliate has repeatedly targeted Shiites in the Afghan capital over the past year, most recently on March 9, when 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque complex. That blast set off protests by the Hazara minority, a long-oppressed ethnic group whose members are mostly Shiite.
The Nowruz celebration, however, drew many people from other ethnic groups, who were among the victims as well, according to a reporter who recounted seeing numerous children and women among the dead and wounded.
There were fears that Wednesday’s death toll could rise as rescuers struggled to reach the scene, through crowds and traffic jams. “Now the area is blocked for our ambulances,” said Mr. Majrooh, the health ministry official. “We can’t move.”