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Afghan cultural centre blast wounds 16 reporters

At least 16 reporters have been wounded in a bomb blast at a cultural centre in Afghanistan's northern province of Balkh, the Afghanistan Journalists' Centre says.

The blast occurred in the Tabayan Shia cultural centre in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif where journalists were gathering for an award event marking National Journalists' Day.

There were conflicting reports about the overall number of casualties.

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafay Takoor said one security guard was killed and eight others - including five journalists - were wounded in the blast caused by explosives.

However, the media outlet of the cultural centre known as Avapress reported a higher account of the causalities.

The centre said three people were killed and 30 others wounded in the attack.

The centre added that 25 journalists were present at the award event.

Tabayan is a pro-Iranian cultural centre.

In 2017, the Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least 50 people in a branch of the centre in Kabul.

Following the Taliban's return to power in August 2021, IS has intensified its attacks in Afghanistan, mainly targeting religious minorities, Taliban members as well as foreign diplomatic centres.

Taliban security forces periodically crack down on IS hideouts in different parts of the country.

On Thursday, IS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed Dawood Muzammil, the governor of Balkh province, and two others at his office.

Muzammil is one of the most senior Taliban officials to have been killed since the Taliban retook power.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's attack.