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    » 12/07/2011, 00.00

    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

    18/01/2010 AFGHANISTAN
    The Taliban attack the centre of Kabul
    Targeted the presidential palace of Karzai, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Bank. Shoot-out around the Serena Hotel. Two days ago, two Chinese engineers kidnapped.

    06/06/2007 AFGHANISTAN
    Kabul gives family body of slain mullah Dadullah
    The Presidents office has agreed to exchange the body for four hostages held by the Taleban. Pakistan accuses Kabul of negotiating openly with terrorists.

    27/07/2009 AFGHANISTAN
    Kabul gets truce with Taliban, why is the West losing the war
    In Badghis province Taliban agree to withdraw from key areas and to not to attack polling stations on 20 August elections. Sources tell AsiaNews that Western nations must reflect on why they are losing the war.

    10/09/2010 AFGHANISTAN
    Karzai invites Mullah Omar to peace talks
    Afghan President renews the invitation to Taliban leader to “lay down arms and put an end to fratricidal violence and attacks". But the rebel leader has never before responded to the calls from Kabul.

    07/07/2008 AFGHANISTAN
    Car bomb against Indian Embassy kills 40, injures hundreds
    A suicide bomber rams a car against two diplomatic vehicles, killing people queuing for visas. The authorities point the finger at the Taliban, who are behind a new wave of attacks that had hitherto spared the capital.



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