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Protesters slam Afghan government after mosque attack

Death reaches 28; Security forces took too long to kill attackers, survivor tells Anadolu Agency

26.08.2017
Protesters slam Afghan government after mosque attack Afghan security forces take positions near a Shiite Muslim mosque after an attack during Friday prayer in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2017. ( Haroon Sabawoon - Anadolu Agency )

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

Survivors of Friday’s attack on a Shia mosque in capital Kabul strongly criticized the government for not doing enough to protect them as the death toll reached 28 on Saturday.

Hundreds of people participated in funeral ceremonies across the city that mourned yet another attack claimed by Daesh that seems to have shifted its focus on the Shia community.

“The terrorists had no mercy, they killed many people with daggers when their bullets ended.

“The security forces took too long to kill them. They [the attackers] should have been eliminated before they could cause havoc,” Mohammad Hashim, a survivor of the attack, told Anadolu Agency.

Hundreds of worshipers were inside the Imam Zamin Mosque in the city’s Kher Khana neighborhood for Friday prayers when it came under attack.

Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismael Kawosi said most victims were civilians.

The Ministry of Public Health confirmed the death toll at 28 and said over 40 others were injured. Among the dead were three policemen, seven women and a child.

Protests against the attack were held in Mazar-e-Sharif and Pul-e-Khumri cities apart from Kabul. Demonstrators criticized the government’s “ineffectiveness” in preventing such attacks from recurring.

Hashim Azimi, member of the provincial assembly in Balkh province who organized the protest in Mazar-e-Sharif, told local Azadi Radio’s Pashto service that militants want to sow the seeds of sectarian hatred through such attacks.

“Daesh militants want to create hatred and division among Afghans the way they [Daesh militants] did in Iraq,” Azimi was quoted as saying.

Daesh claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, claiming that two suicide attackers were involved.

The Taliban had denied their involvement in the sixth incident of its kind this year.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, four of the previous attacks occurred in western Herat province bordering Iran while the other two in Kabul. Daesh had claimed responsibility for two of these attacks.

The Human Rights Watch called the latest attack constituted a war crime.

“An attack on a place of worship during prayers is a horrific crime meant to maximize civilian deaths,” Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani vehemently condemned this "inhuman and un-Islamic" act, saying terrorists cannot divide the Afghan nation with such atrocities.

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