Twin deadly bombings target Afghan shrines
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Bombs devastated two shrines in Afghanistan Tuesday, killing at least 54 people - including children - in Kabul and four in Mazar-i-sharif. The bombs coincided with the Shiite celebration of Ashura, which was banned under the Taliban.
REUTERS - Shi’ite Muslims in Afghanistan gathered to offer blood donations for victims of Tuesday’s suicide attack on a crowded shrine in Kabul, while some said they feared the blast that killed at least 54 could presage more violence against them.
The bombing was the most lethal incident in the Afghan capital since an attack on the Indian embassy in 2008 and an act of sectarian violence unprecedented since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.
“They were targeting Shi’ite people,” said Hussain Rassoly, a 25-year-old Shi’ite Muslim in Kabul. “The enemies of this country are trying to bring friction between Sunni and Shi’ite in Afghanistan.”
Rassoly and around 30 other Shi’ite Muslims, mainly young men, were offering blood outside a hospital where victims of the attack were being treated.
Under the close eye of security forces, he and others blamed Pakistan for the attack, which also injured more than 100.
“Neighbouring countries are always interfering, Pakistan is always doing this to us,” he said. “Everybody blames Pakistan. They don’t want security in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan has a history of tension and troubles between Sunnis and the Shi’ite minority, but it has not suffered the large-scale sectarian attacks that have troubled Pakistan.
Insurgent activity and political violence are commonplace in Pakistan. Islamabad, which is trying to fight the Pakistan Taliban, has come under immense pressure to crack down on other militant groups, while bombings and suicide attacks, especially in the northwest, are frequent.
Pakistan, which like Afghanistan has a Sunni majority, pulled out of a major international conference about the future of Afghanistan held in Germany on Monday.
Some Shi’ite worshippers defiantly continued to mark the festival of Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Hussein, driving cars displaying large red and green flags.
The Taliban condemned the attack in Kabul, which came soon before a smaller blast in northern city Mazar-i-Sharif.
Some Shi’ites also blamed the authorities, saying the police had not done enough to guard the crowd which had congregated near a riverside shrine for Ashura when the suicide bomber struck.
“We’re not happy,” said Rassoly. “The police have not taken the necessary measures of security.”