Kabul hospital says explosion at cricket game wounded 13

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A grenade exploded on Friday during a cricket game in Kabul, wounding 13 spectators at the stadium, an emergency hospital in the Afghan capital said.

The Italian-run Emergency Hospital in Kabul said on Twitter that 12 of the wounded were hospitalized while one other patient was treated and discharged.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosion at the International Cricket Stadium in Kabul, where several hundred people had gathered to watch the match between Band-e-Amir Dragons and Pamir Zalmi.

The afternoon game was part of the domestic T20 Shpageza Cricket league games held every year. Cricket is a hugely popular sport in Afghanistan.

The Taliban-appointed Kabul police spokesman, Khalid Zadran, said the game was briefly halted due to the grenade explosion but later continued.

“The match was going on between two teams in Shpageza League, and during the match a blast happened,” said Nassib Khan, chief executive of Afghanistan Cricket Board.

Lately, the Islamic State group’s regional affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, has claimed attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country. The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s new Taliban rulers.

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August, the former insurgents have launched sweeping crackdowns against IS, which has a foothold in eastern Nangarhar province.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the deputy at the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, condemned Friday’s attack in a statement. He was at the stadium at the time of the attack and was to address the Afghan cricket association.

Alakbarov could not confirm if there were any fatalities at the stadium but wished the injured a speedy recovery.

“Today’s blast is yet another harrowing reminder of the terrifying and sudden violence that the population in Afghanistan continues to be exposed to,” he said. “Sports bring people hope, inspire children and generations alike, play a crucial role in breaking down barriers and bringing communities together.”

Thomas West, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, said he was deeply saddened by reports of the explosion Friday during a cricket match in Kabul.

“Violence serves no purpose and is not the answer for the people of Afghanistan,” said West, who succeeded Zalmay Khalilzad in the post.

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