Kabul Sakhi shrine: 'Dozens dead' in New Year attack

 

 

At least 31 people have been killed and 65 wounded in a suspected suicide bomb attack near a shrine in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials say.

Initial reports suggest the bomber attacked a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered to celebrate the start of Nowruz, the New Year festival.

Many in the crowd were minority Shia. Reports say the number killed may rise.

The so-called Islamic State (ISIS) group claimed the bombing. Sectarian attacks on Shias have increased in recent years.

The shrine has been attacked before. At least 14 people were killed in October 2016 as Shia Muslims prepared for a religious day of mourning during the festival of Ashura. A bombing in 2011 killed at least 59.

One of the city's largest shrines, Sakhi is revered by many Afghan communities but especially by the Shia minority. It is a focus of New Year prayers in Kabul every year.

Shia Muslims make up about 15% of Afghanistan's population, and many of them come from the Hazara ethnic group.

 

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