Wednesday, June 29, 2022

At least 14 dead as blasts rock Afghan cities

This includes 10 at a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, the second attack against a Shiite target this week.

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At least 14 people were killed by bomb blasts in Afghan cities Thursday – including 10 at a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, the second attack against a Shiite target this week.

The number of bombings in Afghanistan has dwindled since the Taliban returned to power in August, but the jihadist Islamic State group has claimed several since then.

Grisly images of victims being carried to hospital from Seh Dokan mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif were posted on social media.

The images, which could not be independently verified, showed a scene littered with broken glass.

“There are at least 25 casualties,” Zabihullah Noorani, head of Balkh province’s information and culture department, told AFP.

A police official said 10 people were killed, and 15 wounded.

Separately, at least four people were killed and 18 wounded by a blast in Kunduz city.

Provincial police spokesman Obaidullah Abedi told AFP it was caused by a bicycle bomb targeting a vehicle carrying mechanics working for a Taliban military unit.

Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara community, which makes up between 10 and 20% of the country’s 38 million people, has long been the target of attacks – some blamed on the Taliban and others on IS.

On Tuesday, two blasts outside a school in a Shiite neighbourhood of Kabul killed at least six people and wounded 25 others.

No group has claimed responsibility for any of this week’s attacks.

Since seizing power, the Taliban have regularly raided suspected IS hideouts in the eastern Nangarhar province.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated IS, but analysts say the jihadist group is a key security challenge.

It has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

In May last year at least 85 people – mainly girl students – were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in the Shiite dominated Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul.

No group claimed responsibility for that, but in October 2020 IS admitted a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24 people, including students.

In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the same neighbourhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers.

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