A suicide bomber targeted a gathering of hundreds of Islamic scholars in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, killing at least 50 people as Muslims marked the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad. Another 83 people were wounded in the attack, with 20 of them in critical condition and the toll likely to rise, Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh says. The suicide bomber was able to sneak into a wedding hall in Kabul where hundreds of Muslim religious scholars and clerics had gathered to mark the holiday, the AP reports. No one immediately claimed the attack, but both the Taliban and a local ISIS affiliate have targeted religious scholars aligned with the government in the past.
"The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Mohammad," says Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief. He says police had not been asked to provide security for the event, and that the bomber had easily slipped into the hall. Most wedding halls have private security. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing, calling it "an attack on Islamic values and followers of the Prophet Mohammad," and declaring Wednesday a day of mourning. "It is an attack on humanity," Ghani said. (In June, a suicide bomber killed seven people at a meeting of the country's top clerics.)