Afghanistan's president on Monday vowed to "eliminate" all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local ISIS affiliate. President Ashraf Ghani's comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late Saturday, the AP reports. Close to 200 others were wounded. Many outraged Afghans ask whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting—America's longest war—will bring peace to long-suffering civilians. The bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a dancing crowd, and the ISIS affiliate later said he had targeted a gathering of minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates deserving of death.
Both the bride and groom survived. In an emotional interview with a local broadcaster TOLOnews, the distraught groom, Mirwais Alani, said their lives were devastated within seconds. A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the US failed to identify the attackers in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to "leave Afghanistan to the Afghans." More than anything in their nearly year-long negotiations with the US, the Taliban want some 20,000 US and allied forces to withdraw from the country. But Ghani on Monday asserted that the Taliban, which the US now hopes will help curb the ISIS affiliate's rise, are just as much to blame. The Taliban "have created the platform for terrorists" with their own brutal assaults on schools, mosques, and other public places over the years, said Ghani, who vowed to "take revenge for every civilian drop of blood."
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