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Attack on civilians in Kabul another 'despicable crime' in a year of atrocities – UN

The United Nations and the diplomatic community have condemned the attack on the Tabyan Cultural Center and a media outlet in Kabul which caused hundreds of civilian casualties on Thursday.

Expressing his solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said a peace process in the country is the only path to ensure Afghanistan's stability.

“The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” his spokesperson said.

The UN Security Council also condemned what it called “heinous and cowardly terrorist attacks.”

In a press statement, the 15-member Council stressed to need to bring those responsible, including financiers and sponsors, to justice.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier in the day, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly denounced the terrorist bombing earlier Thursday of the Shi'a cultural centre in Kabul, calling the “targeted attack” on civilians yet another despicable crime in a year marked by unspeakable atrocities.

“Crimes like today's strengthen our resolve to work with all Afghans who want peace to return to their country in 2018,” said Toby Lanzer, the acting head of UNAMA.

The attack occurred in Kabul's Qalai Nazir neighbourhood, a predominantly Shi'a Muslim area, hitting the Tabayan Cultural Centre where civilians had gathered to commemorate a national day.

So far, about 100 casualties have been reported, including scores of civilians killed. There are, however, fears the number may rise. Preliminary findings also indicate many children among the casualties.

Human rights teams from the UN Mission are on the ground to establish the facts.