Photo: Social Media

Explosion in Western Kabul Kills at Least Two People

At least two people were killed and 14 others were injured in a blast that targeted a minibus in the Dasht-e-Barchi district of Kabul on Saturday evening January 6, the Taliban’s spokesman for the Kabul police command, Khalid Zadran, said.

In a social media post, Zadran stated, “According to initial information, two civilians in the bus were killed and 14 others were injured. The injured were rushed to hospitals and police are investigating the incident.”

The Taliban did not provide further details about the incident. However, according to local sources, the explosion occurred around 6 pm local time in the Qala-e-Nazir area, largely populated by the Hazara-Shia religious group.

As of now, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the western part of Kabul has previously been a target of the Islamic State group affiliates (IS-KP) in the country, which has carried out horrific attacks on worship places, schools, and hospitals.

Although the violence has subsided in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover two years ago, attacks on the Hazaras continue to target their peaceful way of life. In November 2023, at least seven people were killed and 20 others wounded in an explosion on a bus in Dasht-e-Barchi that was claimed by IS-KP, which considers Shiites heretics. A month earlier, the terrorist group carried out two bomb attacks targeting a sports club in the area and a gathering of Shiite clerics in the northern province of Baghlan. The blasts killed six people and seven Shia clerics, respectively.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in 2022 that since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Islamic State affiliate group has claimed responsibility for 13 attacks against Hazaras and has been linked to at least 3 more, killing and injuring at least 700 people. The organization also stated that the Taliban’s increasing crackdown on the media, especially in the provinces, means that additional attacks have likely gone unreported. The Taliban’s failure to protect vulnerable communities and provide medical and other assistance to survivors and their families, as well as its policies that violate human rights, especially those of women and girls, worsens the harm caused by these attacks.

Afghanistan’s Hazaras-Shia Muslim community has faced decades of abuse and state-sponsored discrimination, including by the ruling Taliban. The oppression includes arbitrary arrests, discriminatory taxation, displacement from their traditional territory, and summary executions.

Last year in his report to the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, raised concerns about ongoing human rights violations and persecution of Hazaras-Shia under the Taliban. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also said that it had been able to confirm extrajudicial killings, forced displacement, and destruction of property and arable land in the southern Uruzgan province.

The targeted attacks against the Hazara community in Afghanistan have been widely condemned and have sparked protests around the world. Human rights groups and activists have called these attacks an ongoing genocide against the Hazara community and are urging the United Nations and the international community to recognize it as such. Last year, Richard Bennett called for investigations into the attacks on Hazara and Sufi communities. He said that these attacks are “becoming increasingly systematic in nature and reflect elements of an organizational policy,” and that they may therefore constitute “crimes against humanity.