58 Killed in Rare Attacks on Afghan Shiites

They mark first major sectarian assaults in a decade
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2011 7:28 AM CST
Afghan police officers stand guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011.   (Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – A suicide bomber struck a crowd of Shiite worshippers at a mosque in Kabul today, killing at least 54 people and wounding more than 160 in one of two deadly attacks on a Shiite holy day—the first major sectarian assaults since the fall of the Taliban a decade ago. Four other Shiites were killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif when a bomb strapped to a bicycle exploded as a convoy of Afghan Shiites was driving down the road, shouting slogans for the festival known as Ashoura. An additional 21 people were wounded in that attack.

The Kabul bomber blew himself up in the midst of a crowd of men, women, and children gathered outside the Abul Fazl shrine to commemorate the 7th-century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussein. No group claimed responsibility for the blasts. Religiously motivated attacks on Shiites are rare in Afghanistan, and it was unclear whether they mark a change in Afghan Taliban strategy or were carried out by al-Qaeda or another group based in Pakistan, where Sunni attacks on Shiites are common.

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