Bloody New Friday for Afghanistan’s Shiite Minority

They collect the damage perpetrated by the suicide bombing in the Kandahar mosque. / AFP

41 worshipers die and 74 others are injured in a suicide attack against a mosque in the town of Kandahar

For the second Friday in a row, terror hit the Shiite minority in Afghanistan. Multiple explosions, at least four, rocked Kandahar’s Bibi Fatima Mosque and at least 41 were killed and 74 injured, local medical sources reported. “We are saddened to learn that there was an explosion in a mosque of the Shiite brothers in the first district of the city of Kandahar in which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” lamented Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti, through social networks. The Taliban deployed their special forces to try to clarify what happened and “bring those responsible to justice,” according to Khosti.

“We were preparing for prayer when we heard gunshots. Two people entered the mosque and shot the guards, who opened fire. One of them blew himself up. After him, two more were blown up, ”Sayed Rohullah, a security guard at the mosque, told AFP. For his part, a local Taliban official confirmed that it was a “suicide attack”.

In the absence of knowing the vindication of the attack, all eyes turned to the local arm of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), which last Friday already hit a Shiite temple in Kunduz and murdered at least 50 worshipers. The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) also had the ability to attack Kabul during the chaotic evacuation of the United States in an operation that killed more than 100 people, including thirteen Marines, defies the authority of the Taliban and it tries to end the image of security that they want to transmit to Afghans and abroad.

An attack of these characteristics in Kandahar also means that they have the capacity to act in the main Taliban stronghold in the country, so the clear message is that there is no longer a safe place in the Emirate.

New phase of the war

After two decades of conflict between the Taliban and the United States, the conflict enters a stage in which the Taliban face the local arm of IS. The local arm of the group was established after the establishment of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq and is made up of jihadists splintered from the Taliban, who pledged allegiance to the caliph, Abu Baker Al Baghdadi. During these last 20 years, it was the Taliban themselves who persecuted and punished the Shiites, a sect of Islam that they consider apostate with attacks.

There is an open battle between the Taliban and the IS and after the fall of Kabul, the followers of the caliph spoke of a “false victory” and said in their magazine ‘Al Naba’ that “the United States has restored the Government of the Taliban.” During some phases of 2015, their black flags began to replace the white flags of the Emirate in provinces such as Nangarhar, although little by little they had to go underground because the Taliban are a much stronger and more organized group.

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