29 killed in Afghan mosque at­tack

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

HERAT, Afghanistan — A sui­cide bomber and a gun­man killed at least 29 peo­ple and wounded 63 at a packed Shi­ite mosque in Afghanistan’s main western city of Herat on Tues­day, the lat­est at­tack to high­light the coun­try’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

The as­sault on the Jawadya mosque, which is close to Afghanistan’s bor­der with Iran, came a day af­ter the Is­lamic State group claimed a deadly at­tack on the Iraqi em­bassy in Kabul.

The Herat at­tack was the lat­est in a se­ries of as­saults on Afghanistan’s mi­nor­ity Shi­ite pop­u­la­tion.

“The death toll has risen to 29 killed and 63 wounded. Some wounded are in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion so the toll may go up,” hos­pi­tal spokesman Rafeeq Shirzai said.

Herat po­lice spokesman Ab­dul Ahad Wal­izada said the as­sault hap­pened around 8 pm when “a ter­ror­ist at­tack was car­ried out on a (Shi­ite) mosque in the third se­cu­rity dis­trict of Herat city”.

“Based on our ini­tial in­for­ma­tion two ter­ror­ists were in­volved, one of them wear­ing a sui­cide vest who det­o­nated him­self while the sec­ond one was armed with a ri­fle. They are both dead,” he added.

A re­porter said he had seen a num­ber of bod­ies brought out of the mosque, lead­ing to fears of a heavy death toll.

He re­ported see­ing a body torn to pieces at the en­trance, pos­si­bly that of the at­tacker, while oth­ers were ly­ing in pools of blood in­side, some still cry­ing and mov­ing.

Pho­tos posted on so­cial me­dia showed large crowds had gath­ered at the hos­pi­tal.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity but IS has been tar­get­ing Shi­ite mi­nor­ity crowds and mosques in Afghanistan for around a year. The Tal­iban specif­i­cally de­nied that it was in­volved.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res on Tues­day strongly con­demned the at­tack. In a state­ment, his spokesper­son Stephane Du­jar­ric said the “at­tacks that de­lib­er­ately tar­get civil­ians are clear vi­o­la­tions of fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights and in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law”.

IS has been ex­pand­ing its foot­print in eastern Afghanistan and has re­cently claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for sev­eral dev­as­tat­ing at­tacks in the cap­i­tal.

In July last year, IS mil­i­tants claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for twin ex­plo­sions that ripped through crowds of Shi­ite Hazaras in Kabul, killing at least 85 peo­ple and wound­ing more than 400.

HAMED SARFARAZI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rel­a­tives as­sist a wounded man in a hos­pi­tal af­ter a sui­cide at­tack on a mosque in Heart, Afghanistan, on Tues­day.

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