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Islamic State Takes Responsibility for Mosque Attack on Shias

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The regional affiliate of the Islamic State, IS-KP, has claimed responsibility for the Monday attack on a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s western Herat province.

In a statement on Tuesday, April 30, the terrorist group said that its militants had targeted a Shia mosque in the province, killing at least six people, including a local clergyman, and injuring several other worshippers.

Local sources in Herat province and the Taliban Ministry of Interior have confirmed an attack on Tuesday, April 30, on Shia worshippers in the Guzara district in the province, which is mainly inhabited by Hazara-Shias. The attack resulted in the deaths of at least six individuals, among them a woman and a child.

According to local sources, the victims were ambushed while returning home from the mosque after the evening prayer. The attackers, two men on a motorcycle, managed to escape the area following the incident.

This incident represents the latest targeted attack on the Hazara-Shia, a historically persecuted ethno-religious group in Afghanistan, by IS-KP, who view them as heretics. Since January of this year, the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for at least three other attacks on this community throughout Afghanistan.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the threat posed by terrorism in the country and the region has increased. The ruling regime in Afghanistan has consistently reassured its commitment to uphold the Doha Agreement signed between the group and the US in 2020. The agreement includes commitments to prevent the use of Afghan soil by any international terrorist groups or individuals, including IS-KP.

Similar commitments have been made to neighboring countries multiple times. However, ISIS affiliates have persistently attacked civilians, predominantly religious minority groups such as the Hazara-Shia, in Afghanistan over the past nearly three years.

The targeted attacks on the Hazara community in Afghanistan have garnered widespread condemnation and triggered protests globally. Human rights organizations and activists have labeled these attacks as an ongoing genocide, urging the UN and the international community to recognize them as such. However, this plea has yet to receive the attention it deserves.

In the wake of the recent targeted attack on Hazara-Shia worshippers in Herat province, the UN mission in Afghanistan, the organization’s special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, and the European Union (EU) have all called for the protection and justice of the Hazara-Shia community in Afghanistan.

They have also advocated for an investigation and accountability for those responsible for the attack.

In a statement on social media, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, also condemned the attack, emphasizing the need for holding the perpetrators of the incident accountable.

The armed opposition groups to the Taliban, the Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) and the National Resistance Front (NRF), also denounced the “barbaric attack,” saying that these attacks are orchestrated by terrorist groups with the backing from the Taliban regime.

In a statement, AFF called on the international community and regional stakeholders to recognize the grim reality that Afghanistan has transformed into a haven for terrorists under Taliban rule. The group also appealed to the international community to abstain from engaging with the current regime in Afghanistan and, instead, focus on holding these perpetrators accountable for their crimes against humanity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has also condemned the “heinous terrorist attack ” in Herat, expressing sincere condolences from the people of Pakistan to those in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including despicable attacks on places of worship,” the ministry stated in a statement.