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Powerful blasts kill at least 80 in Kabul protest

ISIL claims responsibility for blasts targeting a demonstration by members of Afghanistan's Hazara minority in Kabul.

Kabul protest

Twin explosions targeting a large demonstration by members of Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara minority in Kabul have killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 230, officials have said.

The attack on Saturday, near one of the most heavily fortified areas of the Afghan capital, was quickly claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), who have previously targeted the Hazara people.

An Afghan official said that three people pledging allegiance to ISIL carried out the attack.

Graphic television footage from the site of the blasts showed charred bodies and dismembered limbs lying on a bloodied road in Deh Mazang circle, close to where thousands of the Hazara had been demonstrating over the route of a planned multimillion dollar power line.

Ambulances struggled to reach the scene, as authorities had overnight blocked key intersections with stacked shipping containers to control movement of the protesters. 

IN PICTURES: Devastating blasts rip through Hazara protest in Kabul 

"I was in the crowd of protesters when a loud bang occurred nearby. Many people have been killed or injured - I am in deep shock," demonstration organiser Jawad Naji told the AFP news agency.

In a statement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was "deeply saddened" by the carnage, adding that the casualties included security officials.

The demonstrators had gathered to demand a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan with a large Hazara population.

The 500-kilovolt TUTAP power line, which would connect the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with electricity-hungry Afghanistan and Pakistan, was originally set to pass through the central province.

But the government re-routed it through the mountainous Salang pass north of Kabul, saying the shorter route would speed up the project and save millions of dollars.

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