Suicide bomber kills 55 at Shiite shrine in Kabul

December 7th, 2011 - 1:47 am ICT by BNO News  

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — At least 55 people were killed on Tuesday afternoon when a suicide bomber targeted a large group of Shiites at a shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul, officials said. Many others were injured.

The attack happened at around noon local time in front of the Abul Fazal Shrine in Kabul when an unidentified suicide bomber detonated his explosives while among hundreds of Shiite members marking the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, on the occasion of the Day of Ashura.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said at least 55 people were killed, including four children and two women, making it one of the deadliest insurgent attacks in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban government as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

In addition to the fatalities, at least 134 people were reported to be injured and taken to various hospitals across the region. A number of those injured were in an extremely critical condition, officials said, indicating the death toll could rise further.

It was not immediately known who was behind the unusual sectarian attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was not involved in the attack and called it the ‘brutal works of the enemies.’ “The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) strongly condemns such a cruel, indiscriminate and un-Islamic attack,” the spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was in Germany for the Bonn conference on Afghanistan, strongly condemned the attack and said the act will only increase the ‘hatred and disgust’ of the Afghan people against insurgents. He also offered his condolences to the families of those killed.

The commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General John R. Allen, also condemned the attack. “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,” he said. “Our prayers and deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those innocent civilians killed or injured in today’s horrific attacks.”

Allen also called on Taliban leader Mullah Omar to condemn the deadly attack and recalled the 20 scholars of Islamic religious centers around the world who recently condemned violence under the name of Islam in Afghanistan and other countries. “This insurgency, which wraps itself in a false veil of Islam, must know that killing innocent pilgrims will spell their own demise,” the General said.

At the United Nations in New York, a spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of the attacks. “The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms such indiscriminate attacks against civilians and extends his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wounded,” the spokesman said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also condemned the attacks and said they were shocked and horrified to hear the news. Both officials offered their condolences to the families of the victims.

U.S. officials, including at the White House, also condemned the attack. “The United States remains undeterred in standing with the Afghan people against the scourge of terrorism in our mutual aim of promoting peace and prosperity,” the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said. “Our thoughts and condolences are with those affected by this act of terror.”

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