At least 21 people were killed, including children, and 10 others wounded in a gun fight that broke out at a wedding in Afghanistan late on Sunday, an Afghan official has reportedly confirmed. Khaama Press reports that the deadly wedding clash was “likely triggered” by a verbal dispute between two armed groups over a boy they wanted to sexually abuse.
Afghanistan Times described the two groups as being illegally armed.
The incident took place late on Sunday in the Dih Salah district of Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan.
There have been conflicting media accounts regarding the number of people killed and injured, which is “common in the chaotic aftermath of violent incidents,” notes The Associated Press (AP).
Jawid Basharat, a spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed that 21 people were killed and 10 others were injured in the gunfight, reports Khaama Press.
Afghan media report that two children were among the fatalities.
Dr. Shah Mohammad Hofia, a spokesman for the Baghlan Civil Hospital, reportedly said 22 people including two children were killed in the attack.
Abdul Jabar Pardeli, the police chief of Baghlan province, told Afghanistan Times that “a music party was under way in Sheshan village, when members of the two [illegally] armed groups started shooting each other as a result of a verbal dispute.”
Khaama Press reports that the verbal argument was likely over “Bacha Baazi,” which refers to the sexual abuse of teenage boys in Afghanistan.
Sultan Mohammad Ebadi, the provincial governor, “said preliminary reports indicate that irresponsible armed individuals started an argument over a young boy which led to gun battle between the two groups,” notes Khaama Press.
Illegally armed groups, backed by warlords and commanders, have reportedly deteriorated the security situation in many northern provinces in Afghanistan.
“Most of the armed men justify having arms by saying they were defending their areas against the Taliban militants,” reports Afghanistan Times.
An estimated 1,500 illegally armed persons reside in Baghlan province, challenging the government, the provincial chief told Afghanistan Times.
The deadly incident occurred as “The Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan (AIHRC) released its report on ‘Bacha Bazi’ – sexual abuse of teenage boys in Afghanistan last year,” reports Khaama Press.
According to the report, “Influential figures as well as wealthy people in Afghanistan are hiring teenage boys aged between 10 to 18 years old for their sexual satisfaction,” it adds.