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Dozens dead in rare attacks on Shiite targets in Afghanistan !!!

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by satz, Dec 6, 2011.

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  1. satz

    satz Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Dozens dead in rare attacks on Shiite targets in Afghanistan

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    KABUL — A suicide bomber killed at least 54 people in the Afghan capital on Tuesday after detonating explosives outside a packed Shiite mosque as throngs of worshipers observed a religious holiday, police and a government official said.

    A second blast in the northern city of Mazar e Sharif on Tuesday also appeared to target Shiite worshippers and left at least four people dead. That bombing sparked clashes between Sunni and Shiite university students, witnesses and security officials said.

    The Kabul bombing, at noon outside a prominent shrine in the Murad Khani district, was among the deadliest attacks targeting civilians in the decade-long war, and the first major attack on Shiites in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. More than 100 people were injured.

    It was especially shocking because in recent months insurgents in the capital have targeted mainly Western installations and military personnel, not civilians.

    President Hamid Karzai, who is in Bonn, Germany, issued a statement condemning the attacks. He called them the “work of those who are the enemy of Islam and Afghanistan.â€

    Television footage of the aftermath of the Kabul attack showed several bodies lying on the street. Authorities said the death toll could rise further. Gen. Mohammad Zahir, the director of criminal investigations for the Kabul police department, said the suicide bomber approached the worshipers on foot.

    Abdullah Khadri, a shopkeeper, said worshipers were beating themselves on the chest before the blast occurred. Acts of self-flagellation are a hallmark of observance of Ashura, the climax of a month-long period of mourning commemorating the death of the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

    Khadri said the attack undermined his confidence in the Afghan government.

    “The police are too weak, the government is too weak,†he said. “They can’t even provide protection for our religious day.â€

    Abdul Aziz, an Afghan intelligence official who was near the mosque when the attack took place, said the bomber arrived along with a group of pilgrims from Logar province in eastern Afghanistan. He said worshippers are seldom searched outside mosques.

    “When they come in a crowd practicing their religion, who can search them?†Aziz said.

    Abdul Ali Ahmat was inside the shrine distributing glasses of milk to worshipers when the blast occurred. He said the bomber struck at a particularly crowded moment, as worshipers trying to leave the mosque bumped into a large group that was entering.

    “I saw women, children and men,†he said. “It was a horrible, horrible situation.â€

    Attacks against Shiite worshipers were common in the early years of the Iraq war, as Sunni insurgent groups sought to stoke sectarian violence.

    But although Shiites are the majority in Iraq, they make up no more than 25 percent of the population in Afghanistan. Many Shiites fled the country during the the years of Taliban rule, because the militant group disdains Shiites. Since the Taliban was toppled a decade ago, Shiites have become increasingly visible in Kabul and other parts of the country, but they remain largely disenfranchised.

    Muktar Amiri, 28, a Shiite resident of Kabul, said he was shocked by the bombing.

    “This will have a big effect,†he said. “From now on there will be some friction between Shiites and Sunnis.â€

    He said it was too early to tell who carried out the attack, but he speculated the motive was to lay the groundwork “for another civil war here when the Americans leave.â€

    Ref:-Dozens dead in rare attack on Shiite mosque in Kabul - The Washington Post
     
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