Militants attack Shiite shrine in Kabul, kill 14

Kabul shrine attack: Kabul police had warned Shiites against large gatherings as attacks were expected.

By: AP | Kabul | Updated: October 12, 2016 11:06 am
Kabul, kabul attack, kabul moque attack, militants attack kabul, militants attack kabul mosque, Shiite mosque, Kabul Shiites attacks, Kabul shiite mosque attacked, Kabul news, Afghanistan news Afghan policemen walk inside the Sakhi Shrine after a overnight attack in Kabul, Afghanistan October 12, 2016. (Source: Reuters)

Gunmen targeted Shiite pilgrims in Kabul late Tuesday, killing at least 14 people as they gathered to celebrate Ashura, one of the most important festivals on the Shiite calendar, officials said. Some 36 people were wounded and at least one attacker killed, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said, adding that the assault was over.

Special forces had briefly entered the Karte Sakhi shrine near Kabul University to see if any more gunmen were sheltering inside, with police evacuating people from the area, officials said. Of the 14 killed, 13 were civilians and one a police officer. Three police were among the wounded, Seddiqi said.

“A number of attackers have targeted people in Karte Sakhi shrine,” said Kabul Police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi, adding, “Police have evacuated dozens of people from the shrine. A number of civilians and police have been injured.” Police also said two grenades had been detonated during the attack.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault, which President Ashraf Ghani condemned as a “clear sign of a crime against humanity”. Ghani vowed the government would use its “maximum capacity” to provide security during Ashura, which will be celebrated on Wednesday, and called on all Afghanistan’s sects to “stand firmly against” the country’s enemies.

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

Kabul, kabul attack, kabul moque attack, militants attack kabul, militants attack kabul mosque, Shiite mosque, Kabul Shiites attacks, Kabul shiite mosque attacked, Kabul news, Afghanistan news An Afghan mourns at the gate of the Sakhi Shrine after the attack in Kabul, Afghanistan October 12, 2016. (Source: Reuters)

Ashura 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. For Shiites around the world, Ashura is a symbol of the struggle against oppression.

The last attack on the Afghan Shiite minority, on July 23 in Kabul, killed 84 people and left 130 injured. It was claimed by the Islamic State organisation. Tuesday’s attack came as Afghanistan deployed hundreds of commandos backed by NATO air strikes in Lashkar Gah to drive Taliban insurgents from the southern city after their latest attempt to seize the capital of Helmand province.

The wave of violence underscored unravelling security in Afghanistan as the resurgent Taliban continue a push into urban centres 15 years after they were toppled from power by the US invasion.

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