Scene of ISIS attack in Kabul
Scene of ISIS attack in Kabul Reuters

A suicide bomber struck a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 41, The Associated Press.

The attack wounded at least 84 people, many of whom suffered severe burns.

The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying on its Amaq propaganda agency that the suicide attack was carried out by one bomber wearing a vest and followed three other bomb blasts in the same area.

The attack may have targeted the pro-Iran Afghan Voice news agency housed in the two-story building, according to AP. The Sunni extremists of ISIS view Shiite Muslims as apostates and have repeatedly attacked Afghanistan's Shiite minority and targets linked to neighboring Iran.

Local Shiite leader Abdul Hussain Ramazandada said the bomber slipped into an academic seminar at the center and blew himself up among the participants. More bombs went off just outside the center as people fled.

Ali Reza Ahmadi, a journalist with Afghan Voice, said he leaped from the window of his second-floor office after the first bomb went off and saw flames pouring from the basement.

"I jumped from the roof toward the basement, yelling at people to get water to put out the fire," he said, according to AP.

The cultural center was housed in a simple building surrounded by mud-brick homes in the Shiite-dominated neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, home to some of Kabul's poorest residents, the report noted.

The White House condemned Thursday’s attack. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, "The United States strongly condemns today's barbaric attack at a cultural and social center in Kabul, Afghanistan, and offers its deepest condolences to the victims and their families."

She added that "the United States stands firmly with the government and people of Afghanistan and will work closely with the National Unity Government to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice."

ISIS, which swept across Syria and Iraq in 2014 and declared a cross-border "caliphate", is now largely confined to a few remote patches of territory in Syria, but it retains the ability to inspire and carry out attacks.

The group’s affiliates in Afghanistan and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula continue to launch regular assaults against security forces and civilians.

The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, which emerged in 2014 at around the same time the group declared a caliphate in large parts of Syria and Iraq, has vowed to target Shiites. The group attacked the Iraqi Embassy and two Shiite mosques in Kabul earlier this year, killing dozens of people.

A suicide attack on the largest Shiite mosque in the western Herat province last summer killed at least 90 people.

In July, U.S. forces killed a senior member of the ISIS Afghanistan branch, Abu Sayed, who was known as the “emir” of the group.

In April, the U.S. carried out a massive air strike against ISIS in Afghanistan, killing at least 36 terrorists.

The attack included the first ever use of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, or “Mother Of All Bombs”, the largest conventional bomb ever built.

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