Three suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan left at least 58 dead on on Tuesday, the Ashura holy day observed by Shiite Muslims.
Various reports confirm that 54 were killed in Kabul when a bomber threw himself into a crowd that had gathered at Abul Fazl shrine to worship. Four were killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and none died in the southern city of Kandahar where the attacker hid a bomb under a parked motorcycle.
The attacks targeted Afghanistan’s minority Shiite population and mark the first major incident of religiously motivated violence since the fall of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime; sectarian violence is more frequent in neighboring Pakistan. Like Kabul, the attack in Kandahar also targeted a Shiite procession, but it missed and hit policemen and bystanders, Kandahar Police Chief Abdul Razaq told The New York Times.
U.S. military officials strongly condemned the attack, especially for its timing.
“An attack against Ashura pilgrims on one of the holiest of days in the Islamic calendar is an attack against Islam itself, and we denounce and condemn these atrocities in the strongest of terms,” said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force. “Our prayers and deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those innocent civilians killed or injured in today’s horrific attacks.”
Ambassador Simon Gass, the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, said, "The attacks today in Afghanistan, on such an important religious day, are horrifying and to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. That men, women and children, are killed and injured on Ashura is particularly tragic. Our prayers and condolences are with them all and their family and friends."
No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack.