Suicide bombing at mosque in Afghanistan kills at least 29

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Afghan residents walk inside a damaged mosque after a suicide attack during Friday prayers in Gardez of Paktia province on August 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Security forces gather following a deadly attack including a suicide attack and gunbattles, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (AP)
Updated 03 August 2018
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Suicide bombing at mosque in Afghanistan kills at least 29

  • A suicide attack struck a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan Friday targeting worshippers during weekly prayers.
  • The attack comes as urban areas across Afghanistan have been rocked by an increasing number of attacks in recent months.

KABUL, Afghanistan: Two suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, killing at least 29 people and wounding another 81, officials said.
Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province, said the heavily armed attackers, disguised in the all-encompassing burkas worn by conservative Afghan women, opened fire on private security guards outside the mosque in the city of Gardez. Then they slipped inside and set off their explosives among around 100 worshippers.
Five of the seriously wounded were small children, he said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Daesh affiliate in Afghanistan has targeted Shiite worshippers in the past. The group has also warned Afghanistan’s minority Shiites that their houses of worship would be targeted.
Syed Sufi Gardezi, the most senior Shiite cleric in Gardez, put the death toll at 30. He described a scene of panic and distress outside the Imam-e-Zaman mosque as news of the explosion spread and relatives gathered.
Gardezi said the wounded were screaming for help and body parts of the dead were scattered throughout the single story mosque. The dead were all men and boys, he said.
Dr. Mohammad Wali Roshan, a physician at a local hospital, said some of the relatives, armed with sticks and guns, were furious at the lack of security and began beating people, even medical personnel who arrived to help the wounded.
“They were shouting that there was no security and screaming for their loved ones,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Gardezi blamed the Daesh affiliate. He said the Taliban have a strong presence in the area but have never attacked Shiites in the past and have never threatened them.
Both the Taliban and the Daesh group are made up of radical group who want to overthrow the Western-backed government and impose a harsh form of law. But they are fiercely divided over leadership, ideology and tactics, and have clashed on a number of occasions. Daesh views Shiites as apostates deserving of death.
In the last two years, Daesh has attacked 24 Shiite cultural centers, mosques and schools, said Mohammad Jawad Ghawary, a member of the Shiite cleric council.
“In Afghanistan they are the biggest threat for Shiites,” he said. He called on the Afghan government and the international community to do more to protect Shiites.


Zimbabwe president to return home after deadly turmoil

Police patrol in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 20, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 32 min 39 sec ago
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Zimbabwe president to return home after deadly turmoil

  • A year of troubles in which his administration failed to improve the collapsed economy, narrowly won a disputed election and violently put down anti-government protests has caused widespread concern

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe’s president announced on Sunday that he will return home and skip the World Economic Forum after a week of turmoil in which activists have said at least a dozen people have been killed in a government crackdown.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa had been under growing pressure to come home from a two-week overseas visit as accounts emerged of abuses by security forces, including dozens of people wounded by gunfire and others hunted down in their homes and severely beaten.
Zimbabwe has seen days of unrest since Mnangagwa made an announcement more than doubling fuel prices that made the struggling country’s gasoline the most expensive in the world.
Mnangagwa in his Twitter post didn’t mention the violence, saying only that he is returning “in light of the economic situation.”
The first priority, he said, “is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again.”
At Davos, he planned to appeal for foreign investment and loans to the southern African nation, but the visit had been expected to be a challenge. His Davos visit a year ago came shortly after he took over from longtime, repressive leader Robert Mugabe, a move cheered by Zimbabweans and the international community.
A year of troubles in which his administration failed to improve the collapsed economy, narrowly won a disputed election and violently put down anti-government protests has caused widespread concern.
Growing frustration over rising inflation, a severe currency crisis and fuel lines that stretch for miles finally snapped after Mnangagwa announced the fuel price increase.
Civic leaders called for Zimbabweans to stay at home for three days in protest. Other people took to the streets. Some looted, in desperation or anger. The military was called in, and with Mnangagwa overseas, the hard-line former military commander and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was left in charge. A crackdown began.
More than 600 people have been arrested, among them a prominent pastor and activist, Evan Mawarire, who has supported peaceful protests on social media and now faces a possible 20 years in prison on a subversion charge. More than 400 people have been denied bail, said his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa. She said she will apply for bail at the High Court Monday. She said described the case against Mawarire as a “travesty of justice.”
Mawarire has called it “heartbreaking” to see the new government acting like that of former leader Mugabe, who stepped down under military pressure in late 2017 and was succeeded by former protege Mnangagwa.
In what critics have called an attempt to cover up abuses, the government in the past few days has imposed an Internet shutdown across the country. On Monday, the High Court will hear a case challenging the Internet restrictions. Although access to the Internet is back, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp are still blocked.
Jacob Mafume, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, said Mnangagwa’s return “was long overdue, in the first place he was not supposed to travel abroad when the country was burning from the economic and political crisis. ... However, we don’t have confidence that his return will solve anything unless he opens lines of communication. What is needed is political dialogue but Mnangagwa has been avoiding us.”
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference last week lamented the government’s “intolerant handling of dissent” and its failure to halt economic collapse, concluding that “our country is going through one of the most trying periods in its history.”