80 killed in IS bomb blasts

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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”.

Photo: AFP

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.

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