80 killed in IS bomb blasts
KABUL was plunged into mourning yesterday after the deadliest attack for 15 years killed 80 people and left hundreds maimed, reigniting concern that the Islamic State group was seeking to expand its foothold in Afghanistan.
Tempers were frayed a day after the twin bombings that tore through crowds of minority Shia Hazara protesters, as many anxiously searched hospitals and morgues, looking among the mutilated bodies for missing relatives.
The attack in the majority Sunni country highlighted the risk of sectarian disharmony in a nation that has largely avoided the bloody strife between Sunnis and Shias across much of the Muslim world.
“I promise you that I will avenge the blood of our loved ones on the perpetrators of this crime, wherever they are,” President Ashraf Ghani said, declaring yesterday a national day of mourning.
The bombings occurred as thousands of Hazara protesters had gathered to demand that a multi-milliondollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan.
Mr Ghani renamed the site of the attack as “Martyr’s Square”. It remained littered with scorched metal, charred flesh and forlorn personal items including shoes, ID cards and protest banners with messages such as “Don’t eliminate us”.
Many protesters defiantly camped there overnight, holding candlelight vigils and reciting Quranic verses although the government announced a 10-day ban on public gatherings.
The wounded overwhelmed city hospitals, with many reports of blood shortages.
IS, which controls territory across Syria and Iraq, claimed the bombings in a statement carried by its affiliated Amaq news agency, calling it an attack on a “gathering of Shias”.
The sandals of Afghan protesters are seen at the scene of a suicide attack that targeted crowds of minority Shia Hazaras during a demonstration at the Deh Mazang Circle in Kabul on July 23.