Gunman kills at least 14 in attack on Afghan shrine

Attacker dressed in a police uniform opens fire on Shia worshippers in Kabul

Afghan policemen stand guard near the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photograph: Mohamed Ismail/Reuters

Afghan policemen stand guard near the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photograph: Mohamed Ismail/Reuters

 

At least 14 people were killed on Tuesday when a gunman in a police uniform opened fire on worshippers gathered at a shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul for a Shia holy day, officials said.

Thirteen civilians and one police officer died and 36 people were wounded in the attack, said ministry of the interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Ministry of public health officials said at least 43 people had been injured in the incident and had been taken to hospitals in the city for treatment.

The attack began just before 8pm local time, police said, with witnesses reporting an explosion followed by gunfire.

Initial reports put the number of attackers at three, but Mr Sediqqi said police special forces who responded to the scene found and killed only one gunman.

The attacker was dressed in a police uniform, according to a police official.

Security forces at the scene evacuated the shrine as the attack unfolded, said Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi.

The attack occurred at one of Kabul’s largest shrines, as Shia Muslims gathered to observe the Ashura holy day, which commemorates the 7th-century death of a grandson of the prophet Mohamed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. A Taliban spokesman denied any involvement.

Sectarian violence

Afghanistan has largely avoided widespread sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, but Afghanistan’s Shia minority has complained of discrimination and has faced increased threats.

At least 84 people were killed and another 130 injured in a suicide attack on a Shia demonstration in Kabul in July.

That attack was claimed by Islamic State.

In 2011, Ashura gatherings were targeted by suicide bombers in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing about 80 people altogether.

Reuters