Aftermath of Saturdays blast targeting a protest (China Xinua News)
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack aimed at a protest in Kabul of mainly Hazaras a minority group within Afghanistan. This is the worst blast since the Afghan war started in 2001, 80 people died and over 260 were injured. The news was conveyed by Amaq a media outlet linked to IS which claimed “two fighters of the Islamic State detonated their explosive belts in a gathering of Shiites.” One attacker was shot dead according to Haroon Chakhansuri, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with a third person believed to be still at large.
IS first emerged in the country in the summer of 2014 and is also known as Wilayat Khorasan see following link,
“Are IS gaining a foothold in AfPak, new video shows some allegiance in the region”
Central government had earlier warned of a terrorist threat which could affect the march. Prior to the demonstration, police blocked access routes with containers to prevent those participating from reaching the city center or the presidential palace. Organizers decided to go ahead in order to draw attention to the rerouting of the TUTAP (Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) power line through the Salang Pass which would miss out Bamyan region depriving many of much needed electricity. Hazara feel they suffer discrimination as a minority group and are often deprived of their rights.
As Alex Wheeler wrote in IBT in May 2016, “only around 30% of Afghanistan is connected to electricity, and modernising the insufficient power supply has become one of the country’s top priorities”. The project is backed by the Asian Development Bank connecting 5 countries and would supply power provide to 10 provinces. Re-routing was planned to save time and money.
Devastation following the blast with many dead and seriously injured
(Images via Zakaria Hassani)
First responders met a devastating scene of burnt and dismembered protesters with security forces firing in the air to warn there could be further explosions targeting those helping survivors. Protester Mehdi Ali told Al Jazeera, “I was in the crowd just a few meters away from the blast, it was so loud that I am still in a state of shock. I saw dead bodies lying all over the area. Is this the value of human blood here?” News was starting to emerge of the identity of the victims, Bilal Sarwary tweeted, “Afghan journalist Hussiani Mohammadi was among those killed in yesterday’s terrorist attack in De Mazang” while Kawoon Khamoosh posted”one of the victims of yesterday Kabul Attacks was a dentistry student” with relatives having the grim task of searching for remains.
One of the yesterday’s Kabul protester’s slogans reads “death to the racial discrimination” via Zakaria Hassani
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the nation on TV promising to “take revenge against the culprits” and has “ordered the attorney general to set up a commission to investigate this incident.”
The Taliban moved quickly to distance themselves from this attack issuing a statement from Islamic Emirate which reads as follows,
Blasts in Kabul have nothing to do with Mujahideen, it is a plot to ignite civil war
Today 3 blasts targeted a large demonstration in Kabul city, inflicting casualties on a large number of our countrymen.
We wish to make clear that the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate have no hand in this incident. At the same time we strongly condemn all acts of cynicism which seek to divide the nation into ethnic groups and sides and then pushed into war. Such incidents are carried out by enemies of the nation and is a deplorable step.
Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Gen. John W. Nicholson, NATO Resolute Support Commander sent his condolences to those affected and stated in Khaama “we strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan’s enemies of peace and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government.”
Bulldozers are brought in by the Afghan Govt to dig 85 graves for the Kabul blast victims via Aziz Koshan
Price of justice in Afghanistan (Aziz Koshan)
A day of mourning is to be observed with Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry issuing a ban on public gatherings during the next 10 days. Journalist Ali M Latifi tweeted that Dehmazang Square, where the blast at Saturday’s protest took place would be renamed Martyr Square, by President Ghani, Latifi said, “so that our generations remember how much it cost citizens to achieve democracy.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.