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» 12/07/2011
AFGHANISTAN
Al Qaeda claims Kabul massacre. Karzai cuts short European tour
59 confirmed dead and over 160 wounded in two attacks which took place in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif against Shiite pilgrims on the holy day of Ashura. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, a group linked to Al Qaeda, claims responsibility.

Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - President Hamid Karzai has returned to Afghanistan, cutting short his Europe tour, after two attacks killed 59 people and injured at least 160. Karzai was in Bonn, where from December 5th an international conference on the future of the country is being held. He arrived today in Kabul, and went to visit some of the dozens of people who were victims of the explosions. President Karzai said that such attacks, of a clearly religious matrix, were the first of such a "horrific nature," to have ever occurred in Afghanistan during a celebration of great importance. Yesterday was the final day, and most important, of the ten days of Ashura, the Shiite festival in commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Muhammad. Mohammad Bakir Shaikzada, the highest Shiite religious authority in Kabul, in all his life he could not recall such an attack. " This is a crime against Muslims during the holy day of Ashura. We Muslims will never forget these attacks. It is the enemy of the Muslims who are carrying them out. "

The toll of the violence is especially heavy in Kabul, where a suicide bomber blew himself up near the shrine of Abul Fazel, among a crowd of pilgrims. The blast killed 55 people, including women and children. Mahood Khan, head of the holy place, said the explosion occurred in a courtyard where pilgrims flocked to enter the sanctuary to pray. Mustafa was selling food to the pilgrims when the explosion occurred. "It 'was deafening, and I was thrown several meters away. There was blood everywhere, bodies on the floor and screams, "he said. Among the victims was an American citizen. In a statement the U.S. embassy states that ''an American citizen was tragically killed in a suicide attack on December 6''. The Embassy states that ''out of respect for the victims family details of the victims identity will not be disclosed”.

A second explosion took place in Mazar-e-Sharif and killed four people. The Taliban have condemned the attack, calling it "cruel and indiscriminate" and assigning the responsibility to an "invading enemy." The attack was claimed instead by a group called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami. This is a Sunni extremist group linked to Al Qaeda, author of numerous attacks against the Shiites.

Shiites make up about one fifth of the Afghan population, and are mostly ethnic Hazaras. Thousands of Hazaras were massacred by the Taliban in 1990. The radical Sunnis consider Shiites "infidels" because their traditions and customs differ from those of the majority faith. The last major incident between Sunnis and Shiites in the country dates to early 2006, in Herat, again during Ashura. Five people were killed and 50 were injured.


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See also
01/18/2010 AFGHANISTAN
The Taliban attack the centre of Kabul
06/06/2007 AFGHANISTAN
Kabul gives family body of slain mullah Dadullah
07/27/2009 AFGHANISTAN
Kabul gets truce with Taliban, why is the West losing the war
09/10/2010 AFGHANISTAN
Karzai invites Mullah Omar to peace talks
07/07/2008 AFGHANISTAN
Car bomb against Indian Embassy kills 40, injures hundreds

Editor's choices
ISLAM - MIDDLE EAST
Al Azhar and Vatican against terrorism. The ambiguity of the international community
by Bernardo CervelleraThe influential Sunni university denounces " heinous" violence of the Islamic state and demands the world defeat this group “through every possible means". Vatican: terrorism is a threat to all humanity. France claims to fight terrorism, but then sells weapons, aircraft, helicopter gunships to Saudi Arabia, which supports Islamic fundamentalism. Kuwait tolerates Salafis who support the Nusra Front and the Islamic state. Turkey against the Kurds; the United States against Iran, Russia and China.
TUNISIA - ISLAM
Tunis, stop terrorism by closing fundamentalist mosquesPresident Essebsi believes unified and global strategy needed to counter terrorism. The attack in Sousse almost simultaneous with those in France, Kuwait, Somalia. Islamic State claims responsibility.
VATICAN – ITALY
Pope in Turin tells young people to be chaste in love, go against the flow and not retire at 20In his last meeting on the first day of his visit to Turin, Francis met young people in Vittorio Square. In a Question and Answer exchange, he talked about love, friendship and loss of trust towards life. "I understand you. How many hypocrites speak of peace and sell weapons. How can one trust? By following Christ, whose act of extreme love, i.e. the Cross, saved humanity." The pontiff also looked at the horrors of the 20th century as evidence of the loss of trust towards world powers. He urged young people “not to retire at 20,” but “live, don’t just exist.”

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