KABUL: A bomb blast in a busy shopping street in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday killed at least eight people and injured 22, hospital officials and witnesses said.

Islamic State, a militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack, the group said on its Telegram channel.

A senior medical officer at a private hospital said at least eight people died and 22 were wounded in the attack.

The bomb exploded in a western district of the city where members of the minority Shia community regularly meet.

Militant group IS claims responsibility again

An interior ministry spokesman said an investigation team was at the blast site to help the wounded and assess casualties. Footage posted online showed ambulances rushing to the scene, which is also near bus stations.

The attack came ahead of Ashura, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Earlier on Friday, at least eight people were killed and 18 injured in a blast in a west Kabul neighbourhood that is mainly inhabited by members of the ethnic Hazara community. The blast was claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

Islamic State does not control any territory in Afghanistan but it has sleeper cells that have been attacking religious minorities in the country as well as patrols by the ruling Taliban.

The Taliban authorities, who took over Afghanistan in August last year after a two-decade insurgency, said they would provide more protection for mosques where Shia offer prayers and other facilities.

Sayed Kazum Hojat, a religious scholar in Kabul, said the Taliban government had ramped up security ahead of Ashura but should improve vigilance.

On Friday, a bomb attached to a handcart exploded in Kabul, officials said, killing eight civilians in an area largely inhabited by Afghanistan’s minority Shia Muslim community. The blast also injured 18 people, police spokesman Khalid Zadran said in a statement.

The number of violent public attacks across the country has fallen since the Taliban returned to power in August last year, but IS has continued to target Shia population.

No up-to-date census data exists, but estimates put the size of the Shia community between 10 and 20 per cent of the population of 39 million including Persian-speaking Tajiks and Pashtuns as well as Hazaras.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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