| Haleem |
KABUL (Xinhua) – It was supposed to be a happy occasion when two souls were joined in marriage in a solemn ceremony attended by the groom and bride and their relatives and friends.
But this was not to be so.
In a dastardly bomb attack in Sangin District in Helmund Province on Wednesday, New Year’s eve, the occasion was turned into a bloody spectacle where the bride, first reported to be injured, died in the hospital and the groom had escaped unhurt but badly shaken.
Twenty people were killed and 45 others injured in the attack, according to Omar Zawak, spokesman of the Helmand provincial government.
However, locals said that some 10 others had succumbed to their injuries in various hospitals. “The ill-fated bride, who was badly injured in the shelling, died Friday or three days after the attack,” a local elder Hajji Nasir told Xinhua.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the attack. He ordered the defense and interior ministries to conduct a thorough investigation of the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
It is unusual in other countries to shed blood or fight during the holidays, particularly on the eve of the New Year. But in the conflict-ridden Afghanistan, warring factions do not respect such holidays and continue to target their opponents which mostly harm innocent civilians. “We were enjoying the wedding party celebration in a house when suddenly we heard a big explosion that turned the house into darkness and the guests began crying,” Raz Mohammad, who was among the injured, told Xinhua.
Receiving treatment at an emergency hospital in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Mohammad, 25, said that he could not imagine that the party would be targeted by armed groups.
Mohammad said that the wedding party was a joyful occasion but guests, including children and women, suddenly became victims of the unabated violence in the country. Among the injured were 24 children and 18 women.
Afghans from all walks of life have denounced the attack on civilians as a cowardly act.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack in Sangin District where clash has been continuing between Taleban and Afghan security forces over the past couple of months.
Like Mohammad, over three dozen injured, including women and children, are now receiving medical treatment in hospitals. EPA
“What was the sin of this kid and why was she attacked,” a hospital attendant Khudai Nazar said while pointing his finger at an 8-year-old girl lying in a hospital bed at the Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah.
In a fit of anger, an elderly Afghan who lost his son and daughter in the carnage, blamed the government for failing to provide security to the Afghan people. “It is barbaric act to target civilians, we strongly condemn the attack on wedding party and we call on the government to prevent a repetition of such gruesome attack against innocent civilians,” Malok, a tribal elder who visited the patients in the hospital said.
The Taleban was quick to point their fingers on the Afghan national army personnel stationed in the area as responsible for the shelling but Army officers said that the allegations were baseless.
The Afghan defense ministry has sent a top-level team to Sangin District to conduct a thorough investigation of the massacre and bring those responsible to justice.