Islamic State has claimed a suicide bomb attack on an office of the Afghan Voice news agency and a neighbouring cultural centre which killed dozens on Thursday.
The attack, in the capital Kabul, was carried out by one bomber wearing a vest and followed three other bomb blasts in the area, the group's Amaq news agency said.
Waheed Majrooh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 41 people, including four women and two children, had been killed and 84 wounded, most suffering from burns.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani called the attack, in a heavily Shia area in the west of the capital, a “crime against humanity”.
In a statement released by the presidential palace, Mr Ghani said: “The terrorists have killed our people. The terrorists have attacked our mosques, our holy places and now our cultural centre.”
The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion at the centre, many of those attending students, witnesses said.
“We were shocked and didn’t feel the explosion at first but we saw smoke coming up from below,” said Ali Reza Ahmadi, a journalist at the agency.
“Survivors were coming out. I saw one boy with cuts to his feet and others with burns all over their faces.
“About 10 minutes after the first explosion, there was another one outside on the street, and then another one.”
Sayed Jan, another witness, spoke from his bed in hospital: “There was a reading and an academic discussion and then there was a huge bang. I felt my face burning and I fell down, and saw other colleagues lying around me and smoke everywhere.”
The floors of the centre, at basement level, were covered in blood and windows of the news agency, on the second floor, were all shattered. People running outside into the compound following the initial blast inside were caught by the further explosions which caused heavy casualties, according to witnesses.
Photographs sent by witnesses showed serious damage at the building and a number of dead and wounded on the ground.
The attack, the latest in a series to hit Afghan media groups in recent years, follows an attack on a private television station in Kabul last month.
Backed by the heaviest US air strikes since the height of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces have forced the Taliban back in many areas and prevented any major urban centre from falling into the hands of insurgents.
But high-profile attacks in the big cities have continued as militants have looked for other ways to make an impact and undermine confidence in security.
According to a report this month by media freedom group Reporters without Borders, Afghanistan is among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers with two journalists and five media assistants killed doing their jobs in 2017, before Thursday’s attack. – Reuters, AP