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Bombings Target Afghan Wrestling Match and Those Who Rushed to the Scene

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives during a wrestling match in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, and as emergency medical workers and journalists rushed to the scene, a second, much larger explosion went off, killing at least 20 people in total, officials said.

Two journalists were among those killed and four others were among the scores wounded in the second blast, Afghan news organizations said.

ToloNews, the country’s most prominent news channel, identified the dead as members of its staff — a correspondent and a cameraman who were reporting live on national television when the second blast went off.

The two bombings injured at least 70, said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry. Mr. Rahimi said the second blast had been caused by explosives packed into a vehicle, and he added that the toll might change.

A similar double bombing on April 30, in which a second explosion went off among journalists covering the carnage of the first blast, killed nine reporters and photographers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions on Wednesday. But in recent years, many soft targets in the western part of the capital, Kabul, where Afghans from the Shiite minority live, have been attacked by the Islamic State’s affiliate groups in Afghanistan.

The group has attacked schools, mosques and training centers in the area. In the last such attack, at least 48 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a packed university preparatory course.

Amir Yagana, a witness to the bombing on Wednesday, said that after the blast, young athletes still in their wrestling clothes had carried the bodies of wounded friends out of the gym and into any vehicle they could find.

Mohammed Dawood Azimi, a resident of the area, said: “After the first explosion, I went to the roof to see what happened. I feared that there could be a second explosion, so I didn’t go to the scene. But I could hear people screaming and crying.”

While he was on the roof, he added, “I heard the second explosion.”

The Taliban are responsible for most of the increasing violence across the country. In addition to holding and influencing territory in Afghan districts and attacking Afghan forces, the group carries out coordinated attacks in many cities. Last month, they laid siege to the city of Ghazni, about 100 miles south of Kabul.

But the presence of affiliates of the Islamic State in the recent years has made the battle more complicated.

The main stronghold of the group has been in eastern Nangarhar Province, where the Afghan Army and United States special forces have carried out operations and shrunk its area of operation. But the group has continued deadly attacks in urban centers.

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting.

Source: NYT > World

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