The Islamic State claimed suicide bombing attack on a peaceful protest in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has left at least 80 dead and over 250 people injured, reports CNN. The Islamic State claimed the responsibility of the blasts and said that its fighters wearing explosive vests detonated themselves in the demonstration of Hazara, a Shi’ite minority group, according to the ISIS’s news agency Amaq.
Initial reports say that the thousands of Hazara folks had gathered at Deh Mazang Square in Kabul to peacefully protest over the route change of the new power line project.
The crowd that dispersed due to the blasts quickly returned to the spot to help the injured. The horrific sight of many soaked in blood and loaded dead bodies in the trucks.
— Syria Today (@todayinsyria) July 23, 2016
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that only the first suicide bomber managed to blow himself and the second one failed to denote his vest. The security forces gunned down the third IS fighter, according to the BBC News.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for Taliban, said in an email that this attack was an attempt to create a divide among people and clarified that the group is not behind it.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said he is deeply saddened and condemns the attack that took place during the peaceful rally in Kabul.
“Peaceful protest is the right of every citizen, but opportunist terrorists infiltrated the crowds and carried out the attack, killing and injuring a number of citizens including some security forces.”
Initially, the Afghani government had planned to route the power line through Bamiyan and Wardak provinces in the centre of the impoverished country for bringing the electricity from Turkmenistan.
Later, the government changed the northern Salang Pass by calling it a cost-effective move and rejected the allegations of being indifferent made by the Hazara leaders.
Earlier this year, Ghani had ordered an investigation against the change in the route of power line project. Following that, a commission including the Hazara leaders was formed to review all the decisions related to the power project.
The Hazara leaders had organized a peaceful rally to protest against government’s attempt to deprive the ethnic group of any power and infrastructure.
The Hazaras are the third largest ethnic group mostly residing in the central Afghanistan. In the past, this group had demanded protection from the government against the attacks carried out by the Taliban and Islamic State.
In the last 14 years, a Taliban militant group has been terrorizing the region to show off its dominance. However, the Islamic State is trying to establish its presence in Afghanistan and posed as a potent threat. The rise in the number of Islamic State claimed attacks since last year has added to the government’s constant battles against the insurgency largely dominated by Taliban.
Earlier this month, the Taliban’s suicide bomber attacked a convoy of freshly recruited Afghan police cadets and killed 30 of them in Kabul. Two days after that attack, Taliban’s new leader Haibatullah Akhundzada said in a speech that U.S. must end its business in Afghanistan.
— Ejaz Malikzada (@EjazMalikzada) July 23, 2016
Last month on June 20, Taliban attacked and claimed responsibility for killing 14 Nepali security contractors hired by Canadian Embassy in Kabul. At the same time, Islamic State released a photo of Irfanullah Ahmed as the purported bomber and claimed the responsibility. But Taliban’s spokesperson Mujahid dismissed the claim made by IS, reported Reuters. On June 26, Islamic State lost about 100 fighters in a brutal conflict with local security forces after launching an attack that claimed dozens of lives.
The Islamic State’s attack on the peaceful Hazara protest in Kabul adds up to the emerging threats by the terrorist group in Afghanistan. The growing tension between Taliban and Islamic State to dominate the region also raise the security concerns, especially in the country’s capital Kabul.
[Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP Images]