26 killed in Kabul suicide bombing 

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Kabul, March 21 (IANS) At least 26 people were killed and 18 injured in a suicide bombing on Wednesday near a crowd celebrating Nawroz or Persian New Year in Kabul, authorities said.

A suicide attacker detonated the bombs he was carrying in his vest around noon between Kabul University and Aliabad Hospital targeting a group of people who were on their way to celebrate the new year at the Kart-e-Sakhi Shrine, Interior Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi told Tolo News.

Police cordoned off the area following the blast. Many in the crowd were Shias and officials said the death toll was likely to rise.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Sectarian attacks on Shias have increased in recent years in Afghanistan.

Both the Taliban and the hardline Islamic State group which have been fighting against the Afghan government are against Nawroz celebrations in the country.

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Wednesday’s attack came after a string of similar attacks in the Afghan capital this year, with the largest attack carried out at the end of January when the Taliban detonated an ambulance full of explosives in the central district of Kabul, killing over 100 people.

Kabul authorities overhauled the security plan of the city after the attack, establishing a new system to prevent large-scale terror strikes.

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