Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's comments come as the country marks a subdued 100th Independence Day and mourns at least 63 people killed in a bombing in Kabul claimed by a local Daesh-affiliate.

Afghan men carry the bodies of victims during a mass funeral after a suicide bomb blast at a wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan. August 18, 2019.
Afghan men carry the bodies of victims during a mass funeral after a suicide bomb blast at a wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan. August 18, 2019. (Reuters)

Afghanistan's president vowed to eliminate all safe havens of Daesh as the country marks a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by a local affiliate of the terror group.

President Ashraf Ghani's comments on Monday come as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late Saturday night. Close to 200 others were wounded.

The latest attack has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by Daesh fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.

Many outraged Afghans ask whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting will bring peace to long-suffering civilians.

The bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a dancing crowd, and the Daesh affiliate later said he had targeted a gathering of minority Shias, whom it views as apostates deserving of death.

Both the bride and groom survived, and in an emotional interview with local broadcaster TOLO news the distraught groom Mirwais Alani said their lives were devastated within seconds.

A mass funeral took place in Kabul on Sunday.

A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the US failed to identify the attackers in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to "leave Afghanistan to the Afghans."

More than anything in its nearly year-long negotiations with the US, the Taliban want some 20,000 US and allied forces to withdraw from the country.

The US envoy in talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday said the peace process should be accelerated to help Afghanistan defeat the Daesh affiliate.

But Ghani on Monday asserted that the Taliban, whom the US now hopes will help to curb the affiliate's rise, is just as much to blame. His government is openly frustrated at being sidelined from the US talks with the insurgent group, which regards the Afghan government as a US puppet.

The Taliban "have created the platform for terrorists" with its own brutal assaults on schools, mosques and other public places over the years, the president said.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year. More children were killed last year — 927 — than in any other over the past decade by all actors, the UN said, including in operations against insurgent hideouts carried out international forces.

"We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood," Ghani declared.

"Our struggle will continue against (IS), we will take revenge and will root them out." He urged the international community to join those efforts.

He asserted that safe havens for militants are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taliban. The Daesh affiliate's claim of the wedding attack said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter seeking martyrdom.

Ghani called on people in Pakistan "who very much want peace" to help identify the Daesh safe havens there.

Last month after meeting with President Donald Trump, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted he will do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war.

Trump on Sunday told reporters he doesn't want Afghanistan to be a "laboratory for terror." 

He was briefed on Friday on the progress of the US-Taliban talks, of which few details have emerged.

In a message marking Afghanistan's independence and "century of resilience," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the weekend wedding bombing "an attack against humanity."

It was one of many international expressions of condemnation pouring in following the attack.

Source: AP