Gunmen kills dozens at memorial for minority Afghan leader

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By Associated Press  with NBC News World News
Image: Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afg
Afghan security forces arrive at the site of the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday.   -   Copyright  Omar Sobhani

KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen have killed 27 people and wounded at least 29 in attack on Shiite leader's memorial in the capital, Kabul, an Afghan officials said Friday.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said the casualties had been sent to local hospitals.

Nusrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, added that clashes with the gunmen were still ongoing in nearby.

Several prominent political leaders escaped the ceremony unhurt, including Abdullah Abdullah, a top contender in last year's presidential election.

The Taliban, which on Saturday signed a deal with the U.S. paving the way for an American withdrawal from the country, denied involvement in the attack. The Islamic State group has attacked Afghan Shiites in the past, and views the religious minority as heretics.

Friday's ceremony was held in the mostly Shiite Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of the capital, Kabul.

The memorial marked 25 years since the death of Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader of Afghanistan's minority ethnic Hazaras, who are mostly Shiite Muslims. He was killed in 1995 by the Taliban as they moved to take control of Kabul, which had been destroyed by a brutal civil war among mujahedeen groups, including Mazari's.