Bomb blast at religious scholar gathering in Afghanistan kills at least 40

Relatives of blast victims gather outside a hospital of the Italian aid organisation'Emergency in Kabul following a blast at a meeting of top clerics in the Afghan capital

He said the number of dead and wounded was "more than 50" so far.

A spokesman for the Kabul police, Basir Mujahid, told the AP that the organizers of the event had not asked for assistance in securing the wedding hall.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have carried out regular bomb attacks in Afghanistan.

A suicide bomber targeted a gathering of hundreds of Muslim religious scholars in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, killing at least 43 people, Afghan officials said.

At least 40 people have been killed in a blast that took place near a wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the country's health ministry has said.

Continuing attacks by the Taliban have also stepped up pressure on security forces.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing, calling it "an attack on Islamic values and followers of the Prophet Muhammad", and declaring Wednesday a day of mourning.

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In January an ambulance packed with explosives detonated in a crowded street in the heart of Kabul, killing more than 100 people, mostly civilians.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, NPR's Diaa Hadid reported that the target "suggested it was the work of Sunni extremists who believe any birthday celebration for the prophet Muhammad is idolatry".

It follows a wave of violence across war-torn Afghanistan in recent weeks that has killed hundreds of people as militants step up attacks.

This month, Taliban militants for the first time attended an worldwide meeting, hosted by Russian Federation, to discuss the matter.

The Taliban condemned the suicide bombing against the religious gathering, saying the insurgent group had nothing to do with the attack.

His comments underscore an apparent increasing sense of urgency in the White House and among American diplomats for a peace deal to be done quickly.

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