The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned two separate attacks on mosques in the country that together killed about 30 worshippers congregated to mark Ashura, the Muslim day of remembrance.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that last night’s attack at a Shia mosque in the capital, Kabul killed at least 19 civilians and injured more than 50 others when an attacker opened fire on worshippers gathered there. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) issued an online statement today claiming responsibility for the attack.
This afternoon, within 24 hours from the first incident, another attack killed at least 10 civilians and injured more than 36 at a mosque in the northern province of Balkh. No individual or group has yet claimed to have been behind this attack.
“These attacks on worshippers are truly abhorrent,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, in a press release. “The extremists behind this emerging pattern of sectarian violence will not succeed in reversing Afghan traditions of religious and ethnic tolerance.”
Earlier this year, Da’esh claimed responsibility for a 23 July attack on demonstrators in Kabul that killed 85 civilians and injured more than 400 others in what was the deadliest single incident recorded by the UN in Afghanistan since 2001. Nearly all were members of the country’s Shia community.
“International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian property, including places of worship, and places a specific obligation on parties to enable religious personnel to carry out their work,” the release said. “International humanitarian law further prohibits attacks directed against people and places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.”
UNAMA expressed condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery for the injured.