Suicide bomber kills 27 at Shi'ite mosque

Over 35 injured in third major attack on minority sect in Kabul since July

A suicide bomber killed at least 27 people and wounded dozens yesterday in an explosion at a crowded Shi’ite mosque in the Afghan capital, officials said, the third major attack on the minority sect in the city since July
A suicide bomber killed at least 27 people and wounded dozens yesterday in an explosion at a crowded Shi’ite mosque in the Afghan capital, officials said, the third major attack on the minority sect in the city since July

Kabul: A suicide bomber killed at least 27 people and wounded dozens yesterday in an explosion at a crowded Shi’ite mosque in the Afghan capital, officials said, the third major attack on the minority sect in the city since July.

The attacker entered the Baqir-ul-Olum mosque shortly after midday as worshippers had gathered for a ceremony, the interior ministry said in a statement. Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police’s Criminal Investigation Department, said that at least 27 people were killed and 35 wounded but that the total may rise significantly.

One survivor told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television that around 40 dead and 80 wounded had been taken from the building before rescue services arrived at the scene. “I saw people screaming and covered in blood,” he said.

Another witness, Sayed Ali, said he had helped carry 30-35 bodies from the mosque and believed another 100 may be wounded.

Bloody sectarian rivalry between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims has been relatively rare in Afghanistan, a majority Sunni country, but the attack underlines the deadly new dimension that growing ethnic tension could bring to its decades-long conflict.

There had been two major recent attacks on Shi’ite targets in Kabul, both claimed by the Islamic State. Last month, at least 14 people were killed when a gunman in police uniform opened fire on worshippers gathered at a Shi’ite shrine for the Ashura festival. In July, more than 80 people were killed in an attack on a demonstration by the mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack, but the Taliban, seeking to reimpose Islamic law after they were toppled from power in 2001, denied any involvement. “We have never attacked mosques as it’s not our agenda,” said the movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

President Ashraf Ghani described the “vicious attack” as an attempt “to sow seeds of discord”. Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Afghanistan should not fall victim to “enemy plots that divide us by titles”.

Millions throng Iraq shrine despite fears
Millions of Shi’ite Muslims streamed through a shrine in Karbala yesterday. Processions to Imam Hussein’s mausoleum have been targeted by bombings over the years; this time, the Arbaeen commemoration saw few attacks. Observers had feared that the IS might seek to strike Baghdad or Karbala during Arbaeen.

1,601
Estimated no. of civilians killed in the first half of this year in Afghanistan

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