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Explosions Rock Persian New Year Celebrations in Kabul Killing 6

An Afghan security police walks in the site of explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 21, 2019.

Three explosions by landmines planted in the western part of Kabul killed at least six people and wounded more than 20 Thursday morning, as people were celebrating Nowruz, the first day of Persian new year.

Kabul police spokesman Baser Mujahid told VOA four mines were planted in flower beds near Ali Abad hospital and police later diffused one of them. The area is also close to a Shi’ite shrine called Sakhi, where thousands of people gather every year to celebrate Nowruz.

Eyewitnesses said the public was told to quickly vacate the area.

Last year, 29 people were killed and nearly 50 wounded in Kabul on Nowruz near the same shrine. According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, civilian and military deaths rose by 12 percent in Afghanistan last year. AIHRC statistics put the civilian casualties at 3010, with almost double that wounded in various attacks around the country.

The Afghan Ministry of the Interior puts Taliban casualties in the hundreds, including 600 commanders and shadow governors of the group killed from March 21 of 2018 to the same date this year.

Meanwhile President Ashraf Ghani, for the first time in his five years of government, attended a big new year celebration in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. Previously, his vice presidents attended this ceremony.

Addressing a large gathering, he said the Afghanistan needed peace even more than oxygen and hoped the new year, 1398 on Afghan calendar, will bring that peace to the country.

The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation is engaged with the Afghan Taliban to try to find a resolution to an 18 year-long conflict that has also turned into America’s longest war.