by Faisal Alipasha in Kabul
- At least 50 killed after suicide bomber targets last Friday prayers of the month
- Eyewitnesses describe ‘dead bodies everywhere’ after ‘deafening blast’ in Kabul
- Hundreds were inside the mosque at the time of the attack, survivors claim
- Today’s Zikr remembrance prayers seen as heretical by hardliner Sunni Muslims
- Whitehall adviser says death toll could be 200 as Taliban insist only ten dead
Afghanistan: A powerful suicide bomb has killed more than 50 worshippers after Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, the latest of a series of attacks on civilian targets in Afghanistan during Ramadan.
Hundreds were gathered inside the Khalifa Sahib Mosque in western Kabul when the huge explosion took place and it is thought hundreds are injured.
The blast hit the Khalifa Sahib mosque in the west of the capital in the early afternoon, according to Besmullah Habib, the deputy spokesperson for the interior ministry.
A government adviser in London suggested 200 may have been killed.
The attack came as worshippers at the Sunni mosque gathered after Friday prayers for a congregation known as Zikr – an act of remembrance practised by some Muslims but seen as heretical by several Sunni groups.
Sayed Fazil Agha, the head of the mosque, said someone they believed was a suicide bomber joined them in the ceremony and detonated explosives. “Black smoke rose and spread everywhere, dead bodies were everywhere,” he said, adding that his nephews were among the dead. “I survived, but lost my beloved ones.”
A local resident, Mohammad Sabir, said he had seen people being loaded into ambulances. “The blast was very loud. I thought my eardrums were cracked,” he said.
The emergency hospital in downtown Kabul said it was treating 21 patients wounded in the blast and two were dead on arrival. A nurse at another hospital, who declined to be identified, said it had received several people in a critical condition.
A health source said hospitals had so far taken in at least 30 bodies in total.
Scores of Afghan civilians have been killed in recent weeks in blasts, some of which have been claimed by Islamic State (IS). The latest attack came on the last Friday in the month of Ramadan, in which most Muslims fast, and before the religious holiday of Eid next week.
The Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August and largely eliminated IS’s local offshoot. However, international officials and analysts say the risk of a militant resurgence remains.
At least 32 people were killed on Thursday by bombs in the in Afghan city of Mazar e Sharif according to witnesses and doctors working at the local hospital. The terrorists’ target were civilians workers, members of the Shia Hazara tribe travelling from work by bus.
The explosions targeted two busy taxi and bus stands used by Shia muslims and members of the Hazara tribe who are regarded as “apostates” by the terrorist. Dozens were reported injured and the figures were mounting, but unconfirmed.
The perpetrators are said to be from the Takfiri group, who consider any other Muslims who dissent from their fundamentalist principles as heretics.
And yesterday Mohammad Mohaqiq, Hezb-e-Wahdat, Islamic Leader of Afghanistan, confirmed that 6 Hazara citizens were shot dead in the Dar-e-Suf area in Samangan province earlier this week.
According to Mohaqiq, the terrorists are killing Hazara citizens with the full connivance of the Taliban, who claim that their actions are in the best interests and security of Afghan citizens.
Mohammad Mohaqiq, quoting Inamullah Samangani, Taliban’s Deputy Spokesman said: “The ISKP terrorist group has no public or physical presence anywhere in the country.”
The incident comes on top of many other suicide attacks on Hazaras in Afghanistan.
ISKP has claimed responsibility for the bloody suicide attacks on Hazara community in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif and the Shiite mosque explosion in Balkh province, which killed at least 50 and injured more than 100. The suicide attack targeted Hazara worshipers in Mazar-e-Sharif.
This is the second time in a week that Hazaras have been attacked by suicide bombers and the attacks have been internationally condemned by Iran, Pakistan, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and Amnesty International.
“We strongly condemn todays horrific attacks against civilians in Afghanistan,” UNAMA said in a statement. “This must end immediately and perpetrators must be held accountable.”
Amnesty International has also said that the killing of civilians requires practical measures to prevent it, not just condemnation. “The killing of Afghan civilians, specifically the Hazaras, must end immediately,” said Samira Hamidi from Amnesty International. She called the attacks “the genocide of the Hazaras” and called for an end to the attacks.
Earlier, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, the Iranian Embassy in Kabul, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the National Resistance Front, Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah and a number of other political figures and jihadi leaders also condemned the attack.
The Hazara community have been the most vulnerable group in Afghanistan during the course of history. Persecution of this ethnic group is deeply rooted in the history of Afghanistan. In addition to decades and centuries of deprivation from their political rights, Hazaras experienced the worst of their time, similar to the time of Abdur Rahman Khan, known as the brutal king of his era during the time of Taliban regime in the 1990s.
After tolerating five years of discriminations, tortures, humiliation, mass killing by the Taliban in the 1990s, an era of hope shined for Hazaras with the overthrown of the cruel regime by NATO forces in 2001.
Though their presence in the government during the past two decades had been more of like a symbolic representation, but the environment was enabled in private and education sector that could empower them literally and financially.
With the emergence of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the former president in 2014, the environment for all the other ethnics, particularly for Hazaras changed. Since 2014, 40 brutal cases of attacks have been recorded on the Hazara community across the country.