7 dead, 119 wounded after blasts rock Kabul protester’s funeral

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(CNN) — Seven people were killed and 119 others wounded Saturday as explosions erupted during the funeral of a protester killed in the Afghan capital a day earlier in anti-government demonstrations, a Health Ministry spokesman told CNN.

“Three big bangs” went off at the funeral of Salem Izadyar, the son of Mohammad Alam Izadyar, the first deputy chairman of the Afghan Senate, a witness told CNN.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani quickly condemned Saturday’s “outrageous attack on mourners burying the martyred,” he said on Twitter. “The country is under attack. We must be strong and united.”

The Taliban denied involvement in the funeral attack, according to a statement.

Lawmakers and high-profile government officials attended the funeral. The government’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, tweeted that he was not harmed.

Salem Izadyar died at a hospital after he was injured Friday in anti-government protests in Kabul, Afghan media reported.

Incensed over the Wednesday suicide attack that left 90 dead in Kabul’s diplomatic zone, Afghans took to the streets Friday to demand the government’s resignation. At least four people died in the protests as demonstrators hurled stones and Afghan police fired bullets into the air in an attempt to disperse crowds.

The uptick in violence this week coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a period marked by both fasting and contemplation. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a car bombing that killed at least 18 people in eastern Afghanistan last Saturday at the start of the holy period.

‘Too much civilian suffering’

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan expressed concern about the Wednesday strike and the rage on the streets on Friday.

“The genuine anger expressed by the protesters, many of whom suffered the loss of family and friends, is fully understandable,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said Friday in a statement.

“But this tragic week has already added too much civilian suffering to Afghanistan, and further violence will not solve any problems,” he said.

The violence comes as a regional summit is scheduled for Tuesday in Afghanistan to promote peace, security and reconciliation. The effort is dubbed the Kabul Process, and representatives from 21 nations have been invited, according to local news reports.

The conference will be a “visible reminder to all those who seek to harm Afghanistan that the Afghan people are never alone,” US ambassador to Afghanistan Hugo Llorens said.

“As always, the United States, along with all of Afghanistan’s partners, remains shoulder-to-shoulder with our Afghan brothers and sisters in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for all Afghans,” Llorens said in a statement.

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