Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Cameroon's Constitutional Court rejects last petition for re-run

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Music stars, French art and a dead cat's renaissance

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Khashoggi Affair: Evidence mounts against Saudi Crown Prince

Read more

#TECH 24

Next stop space: Japanese company constructing nanotube 'space lift'

Read more

#THE 51%

The Gender Divide: Record number of women running in U.S. midterms

Read more

REPORTERS

Reporters: Brexit, a sea of uncertainty for fishermen

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Fishing in France's Grau du Roi harbour, a family tradition

Read more

FOCUS

French education reforms under tight scrutiny

Read more

ENCORE!

FIAC 2018: Paris's one-stop shop for Contemporary Art collectors

Read more

Asia-pacific

Gunmen attack Shiite worshippers marking Ashura in Kabul mosque

© Shah Marai, AFP | Afghan Shiite Muslims conduct self-flagellation rituals as part of the Ashura commemorations at a Kabul mosque on October 9, 2016.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-10-12

Grieving worshippers Wednesday described desperately trying to shelter their children against a hail of gunfire in Kabul that killed at least 18 people gathering to mark Ashura, one of the most important festivals of the Shiite calendar.

Officials said they were still confirming casualties Wednesday as witnesses described gunmen firing "indiscriminately" on men, women and children as they tried to flee.

Late Tuesday gunmen entered the Karte Sakhi shrine near Kabul University, sparking a two-hour long siege as they exchanged fire with Afghan security forces.

On Wednesday the UN put the toll at 18, after officials earlier said at least 14 people were killed along with one attacker, and dozens wounded.

One mother who gave her name as Saleha told AFP a gunman was "killing everyone".

She was shot in the leg as she tried to protect her child. "While I was hugging my little son I begged him not to kill my child," she told AFP.

The child survived, but she angrily denounced the Afghan government for failing to protect them.

"The families of the president, CEO Dr. Abdullah and other rich ones live abroad. Here, only poor people are killed every day."

Another witness, Ali Hussain, said attackers wearing military uniforms first shot the police guard at the gate and then entered the shrine, where dozens of worshippers had gathered.

"They indiscriminately shot everyone they faced. They wouldn't even spare women and children," said Hussain, who fled through a library back door.

A burial ceremony was planned near the shrine for the victims.

There were conflicting reports about the number of attackers and attacks on Tuesday, with interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi saying Wednesday there had been two attacks in two different Kabul locations.

"There were two attacks last night in which two terrorists were involved. We are still trying to finalize casualties report," he said, without providing further details.

The health ministry said at least 44 wounded people were taken to various hospitals in Kabul.

The Taliban said they were not involved and no group has yet officially claimed responsibility for what President Ashraf Ghani condemned as a "clear sign of a crime against humanity".

The threat of attack targeting Shiites was considered particularly serious during Ashura, and many foreign embassies in Kabul had restricted their staff's movements until the end of the week.

Ashura, marked Wednesday, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was assassinated in 680 and whose tragic end laid the foundation for the faith practised by the Shiite community.

The last attack on Afghanistan's Shiite minority, on July 23 in Kabul, killed 84 people and left 130 injured. It was claimed by the Islamic State organisation.

In 2011, about 80 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a suicide bomber struck a gathering of Shiites during Ashura in the heart of Kabul.

(AFP)

Date created : 2016-10-11

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Kabul rocked by string of deadly attacks

    Read more

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Afghan Taliban ‘seizes control of central Kunduz’

    Read more

  • AFGHANISTAN

    World powers pledge $15 billion in aid to Afghanistan

    Read more

COMMENT(S)