ISLAMABAD — The Taliban on Saturday raised the death toll from a hand grenade explosion during a cricket match in the capital of Kabul the day before, saying two civilians at the stadium died in the blast.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, but the blame will likely lie with militants from the Islamic State group – the Taliban’s main rivals since they took over the country a year ago as US and NATO forces were withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years. of war.
Earlier, 13 people were injured in Friday afternoon’s blast at the Kabul International Cricket Stadium, where several hundred people gathered to watch the match.
At the time, Italy’s Kabul Emergency Hospital confirmed on Twitter that 12 of the injured had been hospitalized while another patient was treated and discharged.
On Saturday, Taliban-appointed Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said two people died. It was not immediately clear whether the two died instantly or later in hospital.
The match, between Band-e-Amir Dragons and Pamir Zalmi cricket teams, was briefly interrupted due to the explosion, but later continued. The match was part of the national T20 Shpageza cricket league matches held every year. Cricket is an extremely popular sport in Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban takeover last August, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group – known as Islamic State in Khorasan province – has claimed responsibility for attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country.
The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the biggest security challenge facing the country’s new leadership. The Taliban have launched a massive campaign of repression against IS, which has a foothold in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
Friday’s attack was widely condemned, including by Ramiz Alakbarov, the deputy of the UN mission in Afghanistan, who was at the stadium at the time of the attack but was not injured. He had to go to the Afghan Cricket Association.