KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a religious gathering Tuesday in the Afghan capital, killing more than 40 Muslim scholars and clerics.

The scholars had gathered to mark the birth anniversary of the prophet Muhammad, officials said.

The victims included religious delegates from various parts of Afghanistan, international media quoting Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh reported.

He said the gathering was convened by the Afghan Ulema Council, the country’s largest religious body, and was attended by hundreds of Sunni Muslims. More than 80 attendees were wounded, officials said.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani described the attack as “unforgivable and a clear act of hostility against Islam’s teaching.” The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said it was outraged by the attack.

According to government officials, the bombing was carried out by a lone assailant who targeted the ceremony in large hall on the first floor of a hotel close to the Interior Ministry, a venue usually used for weddings.