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Bomb targeting Shiite worshippers in Afghanistan kills 14

Posted October 12

— A bomb targeting Shiite worshippers in northern Afghanistan killed at least 14 civilians on Wednesday, an official said.

Regional police spokesman Sarwar Hussaini said 26 others were wounded in the attack, which targeted the group as they were leaving a mosque following ceremonies to commemorate Ashoura, a major religious observance for Shiites.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the governor of Balkh province, said the bomb appeared to have been remotely detonated.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a Tuesday night attack on Kabul's biggest Shiite shrine rose to 17 people, including a policeman.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said another 62 people, including 12 policemen, were wounded in that attack. There were three women and two children among the dead, and 26 women and three small children among those wounded, he said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for either attack, but the Taliban have targeted Shiites in the past. Sunni extremists view Shiites as apostates deserving of death.

"Killing innocent women and children is against all Islamic values and against humanity," Sediqqi said, adding that a second attacker was shot and killed near the Kabul shrine after the first attack.

Shiite Muslims across the world are mourning the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein.

Authorities had warned Shiites, who mainly hail from the ethnic Hazara community, to avoid large gatherings. In July, a suicide bomber attacked Hazaras at a public demonstration, killing 80 and wounding hundreds of others.

The United States strongly condemned the Kabul and the Balkh assaults as "cowardly attacks ... clearly designed to stoke sectarian tension in Afghanistan," according to a statement by Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council.


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