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Shia in Afghanistan Fear Further Attacks Ahead of Ashura
The Afghan capital city of Kabul braced Saturday for further possible terrorist attacks ahead of Ashura, the occasion that commemorates the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein [AS], the third Shia imam, a day after an attack claimed by Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the Takfiri ‘ISIS/ISIL' terrorist group] that killed at least five people near a large Shi'ite mosque.
Ahead of the celebration on Sunday, signs of increased security were in evidence across Kabul, with extra police checkpoints and roadblocks in many areas, while security was also increased in other cities.
Afghanistan, a majority Sunni Muslim country, has traditionally not suffered the sectarian violence that has devastated countries like Iraq, but a series of attacks over recent years have targeted the Shi'ite community.
"We are concerned about this. We had internal fighting in the past but never religious fighting," said Arif Rahmani, a member of parliament and a member of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara community that has been particularly targeted.
The government provided some basic training and weapons for a few hundred volunteer guards near mosques and other meeting places but many fear that the protection, which covers only some of the city's more than 400 Shi'ite mosques, is insufficient.
In 2011, more than 80 people were killed in Ashura attacks in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and there have been a string of others since, with 20 people killed in a suicide attack on a mosque in Kabul a month ago.
Friday's attack, by suicide bombers posing as shepherds walking their sheep along a road outside the Hussainya mosque in the Qala-e-Fatehullah area of the city, did not reach the mosque itself but wounded 20 people in addition to the five killed.
No up-to-date census data exists for Afghanistan but different estimates put the size of the Shi'ite community at between 10-20 percent of the population, mostly Persian-speaking Tajiks and Hazaras.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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