A suicide bomber struck a crowded Shiite ceremony in central Kabul, killing at least 54 people and wounding 164, according to reports. (CNN)
The attack raised speculation of renewed sectarian violence, though the Taliban denied responsibility. Many of the victims were taking part in the Shiite festival Ashoura, which commemorates the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, in the seventh century.
The bombings drew sharp condemnation from Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who said the attacks were a “wild and inhumane attack by our enemies, who are trying to blame us and trying to divide Afghans by doing such attacks on Muslims.” (NYT)
The NY Times and others note, “Afghanistan’s Shiite minority community, mostly ethnic Hazaras, was savagely discriminated against during the years of Taliban rule, it had not been singled out for attack during the current insurgency.
Unlike neighboring Pakistan, where sectarian violence is rampant between Shiite and Sunni groups, there had been little such conflict in Afghanistan. (BBC)
CNN’s footage shows celebrants flagellating themselves before an explosion rocks the assemblage and people take off running in panic.
John tweeted from the site, “All journos safe. Hellish scene.”