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Rights Group Wants More Government Protection for Afghan Shi’ites

Human Rights Watch wants the Afghan government to do more to protect minority Shiites after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in Kabul Monday, killing dozens of people gathered for a religious ceremony.

The attack, carried out by Islamic State militants, on the Arbaein ceremony is the latest in a string of attacks that has left more than 500 Shi’ite Muslims dead in Afghanistan since July.

“ISIS has stepped up its horrific and unlawful attacks on Shia public gatherings, making no place safe,” Human Rights Watch senior Afghanistan researcher Patricia Gossman said in a statement.

She called on the Afghan government and community leaders to step up their efforts to ensure safety for Shiite Muslims, who make up between 10 to 15 percent of the Afghan population.

“Insurgents who are responsible for atrocities targeting a specific ethnic or religious community as part of an attack on a civilian population are committing crimes against humanity,” she said.

Another rights group, Amnesty International, also released a statement condemning the bombing Monday, calling it a “horrific and deliberate attack on civilians.”

“[The Afghan authorities] have a duty to take effective measures to protect Shi’a Muslims from attacks and end impunity for previous abuses against the Shi’a community,” it said.

The attack Monday, which killed at least 32 and left 64 others injured, took place as people gathered to celebrate Arbaein, the end of a 40-day mourning period after Ashura.


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