14 dead, 36 wounded as gunmen attack Shia shrine in Afghan capital
An unknown number of gunmen entered a shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday and opened fire on worshippers gathered to commemorate a major Islamic holy day, police officials said.world Updated: Oct 12, 2016 07:17 IST
An unknown number of gunmen attacked a Shia shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday, killing 14 people and injuring 36, the interior ministry said.
The attack began just before 8 pm (local time), when a large number of worshippers had gathered to commemorate a major Islamic holy day, police officials said.
Witnesses reported an explosion followed by gunfire.
Two police sources put the number of attackers at three, but they differed on how many of the gunmen remained alive. The attackers were dressed in police or military uniforms, according to a police official.
Shia Muslims had gathered at the Sakhi Shrine, the largest in the capital, as part of annual commemorations for Muhharam, a month of mourning to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein — the grandson of the Prophet Muhammed — in Karbala, Iraq, in 680 AD.
Wednesday marks Ashoura Day, the climax of the holy month, which in Afghanistan is a public holiday.
Kabul police had warned Shia Muslims against large gatherings as attacks were expected. Lt Gen Gul Nabi Ahmadzia, the commander of the Kabul garrison, told The Associated Press on Monday that he had received credible reports that Ashoura activities would be targeted and called for worshippers to hold the ceremonies “within limits”.
Shia Muslims make up an estimated 15% of Afghanistan’s population of around 30 million people. Most Afghan Shias are ethnic Hazaras. Militant Sunni fundamentalists such as the Taliban and the Islamic State group view Shias as apostates and frequently attack their mosques and public gatherings.
A July suicide bomb attack on a public demonstration by Hazaras against discrimination killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 200.
In 2011, at least 54 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his device at another Kabul shrine where hundreds of people had gathered. A Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was hit at the same time, leaving four dead.