A suicide bomber struck in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday morning killing at least 40 people and wounding about 30 more. The Islamic State claimed credit for the attack, while Taliban spokesmen claimed that they had nothing to do with the bombing.

A Shia cultural organisation was the target but the Afghan Voice news agency was also hit. So-called Islamic State said it was behind the attack.

The interior ministry told the BBC an explosion at the Shia centre was followed by at least two more blasts.

IS has been behind a number of attacks on Shia targets across the country in recent months.

The main blast went off inside the Tabayan cultural centre, but offices of Afghan Voice are also at the location of the attack.

Student Mohammad Hasan Rezayee told Tolo News: “We were inside the hall in the second row when an explosion from behind took place. After the blast there was fire and smoke inside the building and everyone was pleading for help.”

Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at Afghan Voice, told Reuters that one reporter at the agency had been killed and two wounded.

Distraught relatives gathered at local hospitals which are treating the dozens of people wounded, and there are fears the death toll could rise.

The Islamic State group said on its propaganda outlet Amaq that it had targeted the Shia centre with a suicide bomber and other bombs.

The Taliban had earlier issued a statement saying they were not involved.

The Taliban are not known to specifically target Shias, although both militant groups have carried out frequent attacks across the country.

With the Shia population growing increasingly dissatisfied with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, it is believed ISIS targeted the Shia center in an attempt to start sectarian violence between the Sunni and the Shia.

The Islamic State, which has come under increasing attacks from the Afghan security forces considers the Shia apostates.

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