Middle East

Pakistan-Based Militants Claim Responsibility for Attacks on Afghan Shiites

A Sunni militant group based in Pakistan is claiming responsibility for a pair of attacks in Afghanistan that killed at least 60 Shiites today.

The deadliest attack came at a mosque in the capital, Kabul, where worshippers were observing a Shiite holy day (Ashoura -- ah-SHOOR'-ah) that marks the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of men, women and children gathered outside the shrine. The Public Health Ministry says 56 people were killed and more than 160 wounded.

In the second attack, a bomb on a bicycle exploded as a convoy of Shiites passed on a road in a northern city (Mazar-i-Sharif -- mu-ZAR'-eh-sheh-REEF'). The Interior Ministry says police defused a second bomb planted near the first.

Religiously motivated attacks on Shiites are rare in Afghanistan, but are common in neighboring Pakistan. A man claiming to represent a Sunni militant group known for its ruthlessness called various media outlets in Pakistan to claim responsibility for the Kabul bombing.

The top Shiite cleric in Kabul said "Muslims will never forget these attacks". The Taliban have condemned the attacks. 

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