At least two blasts struck a large ceremony Thursday attended by Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and other leading government officials, killing one person and injuring 17 others.
The Kabul attack represents a major security breach and marks a resumption of violence in the capital after weeks of calm amid ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban in Doha.
“Stay calm, the area of the blast is far from us,” said former lower house speaker Mohammad Younus Qanooni during a live broadcast of the event.
But moments after the announcement, another explosion and gunfire could be heard that sent people running.
A second unidentified voice then addressed the screaming crowd, saying: “I request my countrymen to stay calm. The mortar attack is far from the gathering.”
The blasts happened during a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the death of Shiite Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari that was attended by many of the country’s political elite, including Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai.
“Terrorists were firing Mortars at Abdul Ali Mazari remembrance ceremony, from inside a compound,” deputy interior minister Khoshal Sadat said in English on Twitter, adding that police had arrested one person linked to the attack.
“One martyred, 17 wounded — 3 children and one woman among them,” tweeted Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry.
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani — who was at the scene — later added that “terrorists launched rocket attacks on commemoration ceremony”, and said he had escaped safely.
It remained unclear whether rockets or mortar fire were being used, with officials using both terms.