Suicide bomber kills more than 30 near shrine in Afghan capital

Police patrol the streets after a suicide attack in front of the Kabul university in Kabul, Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (AP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Suicide bomber kills more than 30 near shrine in Afghan capital

KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up near a shrine in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens, as the Afghan capital celebrated the Nawruz holiday marking the start of the Persian new year.
The explosion underlined the threat to the city from militant attacks, despite government promises to tighten security in the wake of an attack in central Kabul that killed around 100 people in January.
Militant group Daesh, which has claimed several previous attacks on Shiite targets, claimed responsibility, saying the attack specifically targeted Shiites celebrating Nawruz, its Amaq news agency said.
The Taliban, which often fights Daesh’s local affiliate in Afghanistan, issued a statement denying any connection to the blast.
Kabul had been on alert for attacks over the Nawruz holiday but the bomber was still able to detonate his explosives as people were leaving the Kart-e Sakhi shrine, in the west of the city.
“People were heading home joyously after the end of the ceremony when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives among them,” said Kabul police chief Daud Amin. “Many of our countrymen were martyred.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said the bomber had apparently intended to reach the shrine, which was attacked during a Shiite festival in October 2016, but had been prevented from getting closer by police checkpoints.
“We had our security in place in and around the shrine,” he said. “All the casualties were young people who were either passing by on the road or gathering to enjoy Nawruz.”
Waheed Majroh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 32 people were confirmed dead with more than 50 wounded being treated in hospitals in the city. Women and children were among the casualties, he said.
Wednesday’s attack was the latest in a series to have struck Kabul this year, including one earlier this month that targeted the Hazara minority.
The seemingly endless attacks have undermined support for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who offered last month to hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents fighting to drive out international forces and reimpose their version of strict Islamic law.
The Taliban have so far shown little sign of accepting the offer of talks with the Western-backed government, which they consider an illegitimate, foreign-imposed regime, although they have offered to talk to the United States.


Boko Haram suicide attack kills eight at mosque

Updated 12 min 20 sec ago
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Boko Haram suicide attack kills eight at mosque

KANO: Eight people were killed at a mosque in northeast Nigeria on Monday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives, a civilian militia member and a local resident said.
The blast happened in the Mainari area of Konduga, in Borno state, said Ibrahim Liman, from the civilian militia force assisting the military in the fight against Boko Haram.
“The male bomber walked into the mosque at about 5:15 am (0415 GMT) while prayers were on and exploded, killing eight worshippers and injuring five others,” he told AFP.
“Seven of the victims died in the mosque while another died on the way to (the Borno state capital) Maiduguri.”
Suicide bombings against “soft” civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations are the hallmark of the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau.
Many of the bombers used are young women and girls. Liman said the latest attack appeared to be carried out by a man in his early 20s.
Umar Goni, who lives in Konduga, said he was on his way to the mosque when the blast occurred and he helped to rescue victims with members of the civilian volunteer force.
“We pulled out seven dead bodies and six injured worshippers. One of the six injured died on the way to hospital,” he added.
The bomber was disguised as a worshipper, he said, adding: “There was no way anybody could have known his mission.”
The latest attack comes as Nigeria’s government is encouraging people displaced by Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency to return home.
But aid agencies providing food, health care, clean water and shelter across the conflict-ravaged region have warned that security has not improved.
Last week, at least six traders were killed when a convoy of lorries under military escort were ambushed in Borno state near the border with Cameroon.
There have also been a number of attacks on military convoys and bases in Borno and neighboring Yobe state, with undisclosed casualties.
Soldiers and civilians have also been targeted in separate attacks in neighboring Chad and Niger.