Islamic State suicide bomber kills 29 as Afghans celebrate new year
Afghan security officials inspect the scene of a suicide bomb blast Wednesday that targeted a shrine visited by Shiite Muslims in Kabul, Afghanistan, as the country observes the Nowruz Persian New Year. (Hedayatullah Amid / EPA / Shutterstock)

 

An Islamic State suicide bomber struck on the road to a Shiite shrine in Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, killing at least 29 people as Afghans celebrated the Persian new year.

The Public Health Ministry said 52 others were wounded in the attack, which was carried out by a bomber on foot.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites. Islamic State said the attack targeted “a gathering of Shiites celebrating Nowruz.”

The Persian new year, known in Afghanistan as Nowruz, is a national holiday, and the country’s minority Shiites typically celebrate by visiting shrines. The Sunni extremists of Islamic State have repeatedly targeted Shiites, whom they view as apostates deserving of death.

The attack took place near Kabul University and a government hospital, around one mile from the Sakhi shrine, where people were gathered to celebrate the new year, said Gen. Daud Amin, Kabul’s police chief.

The chief said the attacker managed to slip past police checkpoints set up along the road. He said that an investigation into the security breach is underway, and that anyone found to have neglected his duties would be punished.

Earlier this month, another Islamic State suicide bomber targeted Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras, killing nine people and wounding 18 others. The bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint near a gathering of minority Shiites in western Kabul.

That bomber also was on foot and was trying to make his way to a compound where the Hazaras had gathered to commemorate the 1995 death of their leader, Abdul Ali Mazari, who was killed by the Taliban.

Kabul has recently seen a spate of large-scale militant attacks by the Taliban and Islamic State group. In late January, a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, calling it a “crime against humanity.”

Despite the earlier bombing, by afternoon, many people — including women and children — came into the streets wearing colorful clothing to continue celebrating the new year holiday.

Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

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