Afghanistan govern­ment urged to pro­tect Shi­ites

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

An in­ter­na­tional rights group and vic­tims’ fam­i­lies urged the Afghan govern­ment yes­ter­day to pro­tect the mi­nor­ity Shi­ite com­mu­nity af­ter a bloody mosque bomb­ing, the lat­est in a se­ries of deadly sec­tar­ian at­tacks. A mas­sive sui­cide blast claimed by the Is­lamic State group tar­geted a Shi­ite con­gre­ga­tion in Kabul on Mon­day, killing at least 27 peo­ple and wound­ing 64. “ISIS has stepped up its hor­rific and un­law­ful at­tacks on Shi­ite public gath­er­ings, mak­ing no place safe,” Pa­tri­cia Goss­man, a se­nior re­searcher at Hu­man Rights Watch, said in a state­ment us­ing an al­ter­na­tive acro­nym for IS.

“The govern­ment, Shi­ite lead­ers, and civil so­ci­ety groups should work to­gether to de­velop ap­pro­pri­ate ways to im­prove se­cu­rity dur­ing vul­ner­a­ble public and re­li­gious gath­er­ings so that Shi­ite com­mu­nity mem­bers can ex­er­cise their ba­sic rights.” she said. Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, in a state­ment Mon­day, said Afghan au­thor­i­ties “have a duty to take ef­fec­tive mea­sures to pro­tect Shi­ite Mus­lims from at­tacks and end im­punity for pre­vi­ous abuses against the Shi­ite com­mu­nity”. The lat­est at­tack was mounted as wor­ship­pers gath­ered for the ma­jor Shi­ite cer­e­mony of Ar­baeen, mark­ing the end of a 40-day mourn­ing pe­riod af­ter Ashura.

Ashura it­self com­mem­o­rates the death of Imam Hus­sein, the grand­son of the Prophet Muham­mad. An­gry Shi­ite mourn­ers yes­ter­day ac­cused the govern­ment of fail­ing to pro­vide pro­tec­tion as they buried loved ones. “We voted for this govern­ment, peo­ple’s fin­gers were cut by mil­i­tants for vot­ing. In re­turn the govern­ment should pro­vide us with se­cu­rity,” said Ghu­lam Hay­dar, a rel­a­tive of a vic­tim. “I want the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to help us get rid of the ter­ror­ists and stop them from harm­ing the peo­ple.” The In­te­rior Min­istry said it had sus­pended four po­lice of­fi­cials in con­nec­tion with the at­tack and launched a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Last month a pow­er­ful blast tar­get­ing Shi­ites dur­ing Ashura killed 14 peo­ple in north­ern Afghanistan. It fol­lowed twin at­tacks claimed by IS that also tar­geted Shi­ites and killed 18 in Kabul. In July IS ji­hadists claimed twin ex­plo­sions that ripped through crowds of Shi­ite Hazaras in Kabul, killing at least 85 and wound­ing more than 400. Those bombings marked the dead­li­est sin­gle at­tack in the Afghan cap­i­tal since the Tale­ban were ousted from power in a 2001 US-led in­va­sion. Fighters from IS, which con­trols ter­ri­tory across Syria and Iraq, have been mak­ing steady in­roads in Afghanistan, chal­leng­ing the Tale­ban on their own turf mainly in the east.

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