Officials say the attack in Kabul, claimed by Daesh, targeted a ceremony marking 24th death anniversary of Shia Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari attended by many of Afghanistan's elite.

Men carry a wounded person to the hospital after attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 7, 2019.
Men carry a wounded person to the hospital after attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 7, 2019. (Reuters)

A mortar attack on a large ceremony attended by Afghanistan's chief executive and other leading government figures in Kabul on Thursday killed three people and wounded 22 others, officials said.

The attack claimed by Daesh 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.

"Twenty-two wounded – three children and one woman – and three dead have been taken to hospitals," tweeted Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry.

Among those attending the gathering included chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai and other leading government officials.

"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 could be heard that sent people running for the exit.

The explosions happened during a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the death of Shia Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari.

Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani – who was also at the scene – later added that "terrorists launched rocket attacks on commemoration ceremony," and said he had escaped safely.

Mortar fire is commonly referred to as "rockets" by Afghan officials.

US-Taliban talks

The incident comes as US and Taliban negotiations continue to hold peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year conflict.

The last major attack in Kabul occurred in January when the Taliban-claimed responsibility for a car bomb that struck the heavily fortified Green Village foreign compound.

Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan has led to a reduction in violence this winter, but warmer weather in the country's south will likely spark an increase in bloodshed with the arrival of the spring fighting season.

Analysts have warned that the Taliban are likely to ramp up attacks in the coming months as they seek to maintain momentum on the battlefield and leverage at the negotiating table.

Source: AFP