It follows a wave of bloody violence across the war-torn country in recent weeks that has killed hundreds of people as militants step up assaults during a flurry of diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year conflict.
At least 83 people were wounded in the blast, health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said, which targeted religious scholars and leaders inside a wedding hall where hundreds had gathered to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday — one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.
Religious studies lecturer Mohammad Hanif said verses of the Koran were being recited when there was a deafening explosion followed by “chaos” inside the packed hall.
“More than 60 or 70 people were martyred,” Hanif, 31, told AFP outside a trauma facility run by Italian NGO Emergency. He escaped unhurt.
“They suffered burns, everyone in the halls was screaming for help.”
A photo posted on WhatsApp purportedly of the function room showed blood-splattered bodies, some with clothes partially ripped off by the force of the blast, overturned chairs and broken glass strewn over the floor.
President Ashraf Ghani declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims of the attack, which he described in a statement as an “unforgivable crime”.