Four killed in Afghanistan shooting, including three Spanish tourists

Published May 18, 2024
FILE PHOTO: A Taliban soldier stands guard in front of the ruins of a 1500-year-old Buddha statue in Bamyan, Afghanistan, March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A Taliban soldier stands guard in front of the ruins of a 1500-year-old Buddha statue in Bamyan, Afghanistan, March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo

Three Spanish tourists and an Afghan were killed Friday in a shooting in the popular tourism destination of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, local and Spanish authorities said.

Afghanistan’s Interior ministry spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani confirmed the four deaths to AFP, saying the victims were killed in gunfire Friday evening in Bamiyan city.

Another four foreigners and three Afghans were wounded, he added.

Spain’s foreign ministry said later Friday that three of the dead were Spanish tourists, adding that at least one other Spanish national was wounded. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Overwhelmed by the news of the murder of Spanish tourists in Afghanistan.”

The European Union condemned the attack “in the strongest terms.”

“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims who lost their lives and those injured in the attack,” the body said in a statement.

‘Sounds of successive gunshots’

According to preliminary information provided by hospital sources, the wounded were from Norway, Australia, Lithuania and Spain.

Security forces have arrested four people in connection with the attack, Qani said.

He did not say if there had been multiple shooters.

The Taliban government “strongly condemns this crime, expresses its deep feelings to the families of the victims and assures that all the criminals will be found and punished”, Qani said in a statement.

A local resident, who did not want to be named, said he “heard the sounds of successive gunshots, and the city streets leading to the site were blocked immediately by the security forces”.

Bamiyan, home to the giant Buddhas blown up by the Taliban in 2001, is Afghanistan’s top tourist destination.

The Taliban government has yet to be officially recognised by any country but it has welcomed foreign tourism.

Increasing numbers of visitors have travelled to Afghanistan as security has improved since the Taliban ended their insurgency after ousting the Western-backed government in 2021.

They holiday without consular support after most embassies were evacuated following the Taliban authorities’ takeover, with Western governments warning against visiting.

Deadly attacks on foreigners have been rare in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power.

Arriving in western Herat province Friday evening, a foreign tourist posted on a WhatsApp group for travellers in Afghanistan that he and others were stopped by the Taliban authorities and told “that because of Bamiyan we were no longer safe”.

“After some time and Google translate, we convinced them to let us go, they said go eat quickly and get off the streets,” the tourist said.

The Bamiyan region is majority inhabited by members of the Hazara Shia community.

The historically persecuted religious minority has been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State group, which considers them heretics.

The number of bombings and suicide attacks in Afghanistan has reduced dramatically since the Taliban authorities took power.

However, a number of armed groups, including IS, remain a threat.

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