Afghanistan: At least nine dead in bomb attacks on two passenger vans carrying Shia Muslims

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At least nine people have been killed and thirteen injured after bombs exploded on two passenger vans in Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday.

Mohammad Asif Waziri, a spokesperson for the Taliban who has been appointed police chief, said in a statement that the blasts targeted two separate vehicles in the capital of Balkh province.

“The bombs were placed inside the vans; due to those blasts nine have been killed and 13 injured,” he was quoted as saying.

He added that the public transport vans were operated and used by the local Shia community, which is a minority Muslim sect in Afghanistan.

The community constitutes between 10 to 20 per cent of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million, and has been a frequent target of Sunni militant groups, including Isis.

Isis later claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on its Telegram account, reported Reuters.

Last week, blasts at a high school in a predominantly Shia Hazara area in western Kabul killed at least six people.

The Taliban, which took over the country last August, had earlier said that most of Isis’s presence in Afghanistan has been eliminated.

Yet attacks have continued in several parts of the country. Thursday’s bus blasts come a week after an attack on a Shia mosque, also in Mazar-i-Sharif, that killed at least 12 people and wounded several others.

Last week the Taliban government’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that several arrests had been made in connection with the string of recent attacks.

“These attacks targeted places that did not have enough security like mosques and a school, but now we have stepped up security in such places,” he was quoted as saying.

While the Taliban and Isis are both Sunni Islamist extremist groups seeking to form authoritarian states under strict Sharia law and prepared to use violence to achieve their aim, the two groups remain fierce rivals in Afghanistan.

Additional reporting by agencies

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