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59 killed in blasts across Afghanistan

Kabul: Twin blasts at Afghan shrines on the Shiite holy day of Ashura left at least 59 people dead on Tuesday, with one massive suicide attack in Kabul ripping through a crowd of worshippers including children.

The attack in the capital and another in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif came a day after an international meeting in Germany aimed at charting a course for Afghanistan, 10 years after US-led forces drove the Taliban from power.

The Kabul blast alone killed 54 people, in the deadliest strike on the capital in three years, which President Hamid Karzai said was the first “terrorist” act on an important holy day.

Nato also condemned the attacks while the Taliban did not claim responsibility and instead denounced them as “inhumane” and blamed the bloodshed on the “invading enemy”. The explosion erupted at the entrance to a riverside shrine in central Kabul, where hundreds of singing Shiite Muslims had gathered to mark Ashura, with men whipping their bare backs as part of the traditional mourning.

“I was there watching people mourning when there was suddenly a huge explosion,” witness Ahmad Fawad said.

“Some people around me fell down injured. I wasn’t hurt, so I got up and started running. It was horrible,” he said.

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