61 Killed in ISIS Attack on Kabul Protest
Minority Hazaras were protesting a power line
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2016 9:16 AM CDT
Before the blast, a young Hazara wears a symbol of electricity as thousands of demonstrators march towards the center of Kabul, Afghanistan.   (Rahmat Gul)
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(Newser) – At least 61 people were killed and another 207 wounded in Kabul on Saturday, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed clothing among a large crowd of demonstrators, officials and witnesses say. Officials say many of the injured are in very serious condition and the death toll is likely to rise. In a statement issued by its news agency, Aamaq, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on a protest march by Afghanistan's ethnic Hazaras. The marchers were demanding that a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province, the AP reports. Most Hazaras, unlike most Afghans, are Shiite Muslims, and they were especially persecuted during the extremist Sunni Taliban 1996-2001 regime.

The government had received intelligence that an attack could take place, and had warned the march organizers, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says. Witnesses say roadblocks set up to keep the marchers out of the center of Kabul delayed emergency vehicles. Footage on Afghan television and photographs posted on social media showed a scene of horror and carnage, with numerous bodies and body parts spread across the square where the bomber struck. The commander of US and NATO armed forces in Afghanistan, US Army Gen. John Nicholson, condemned the attack. "Our condolences go out to those who are affected by today's attack," he said in a statement. "We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan's enemies of peace and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government."