Deadly explosion in Afghanistan strikes during holy ceremonies

World Today

Afghans pray during the funeral of victim who died, a militant attack at a Shiite shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photos/Rahmat Gul)

At least six Afghan civilians were killed when an explosion struck a group of Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Balkh province, an official said.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor in Balkh, said Wednesday that 36 others were wounded in the attack, which targeted a group as they were leaving a mosque following ceremonies to commemorate Ashoura, a major religious holiday among Shiites.

“The death toll could rise, because a number of the wounded people are in critical condition,” said Farhad, adding that the bomb appeared to have been detonated by remote control.

Meanwhile in the capital, Kabul, the death toll from a Tuesday night attack on a Shiite shrine rose to 17 people, including a policeman.

Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry’s spokesman said another 62 people, including 12 policemen, were wounded in that attack.

There were three women and two children among the dead and 26 women and three small children among those wounded in the attack, he said.

“Killing innocent women and children is against all Islamic values and against humanity,” Sediqqi added.

The attack on the Sakhi Shrine, Kabul’s biggest, happened as Shiite Muslims were mourning the death in 680 AD of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein.

A second militant was also shot and killed near the Sakhi shrine hours after the first attack, Sediqqi said.

Shiites, mostly ethnic Hazaras, had been warned by authorities to avoid large gatherings as attacks during Ashoura were expected.

No group has claimed responsibility for attacks in Kabul and Balkh provinces.

In July, a suicide bomber attacked Hazaras at a public demonstration, killing 80 and wounding hundreds of others.