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

Afghan policeman keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul Afghanistan

At least 40 people are reported to have been killed and dozens injured in an explosion near a wedding hall in Kabul, said Afghan health ministry.

A government spokesperson Najib Danish was quoted as saying that a suicide bomber may have been behind the attack.

A local affiliate of the IS group claimed a suicide bombing in June that targeted a meeting of the country's top religious body in the capital.

The death toll was expected to rise.

Interior ministry spokesman Najibullah Danish told DW that the clerics had gathered at Uranus Wedding Palace in Kabul to celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad, when they were attacked in the early evening.

"The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad", said Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief.

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The first bomb attack was carried out by an assailant on a motorcycle, who blew himself up in the Shashdarak area close to the buildings of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security in the heart of Kabul, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic State group has claimed most recent suicide attacks in Kabul, which has become the deadliest place in the country for civilians.

"Everything was covered with smoke and dust", he said.

The Afghan Ulema Council had issued a religious order, or fatwa, declaring suicide attacks forbidden, or "haram", under the principles of Islam.

Afghan Taliban denied involvement and condemned the attack, in a statement.

Both militant groups want to overthrow the US -backed government and impose a harsh form of Islamic rule, but they are bitterly divided over leadership and ideology, and have clashed on a number of occasions.

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