- Members of the minority Shiite Hazara community were protesting in Kabul over objecting to a planned power line
- Thousands took to the streets after the Afghan government said the project would not reach their home region
- Officials wanted to bypass their region to save money on the major project and get it operational sooner
- ISIS confirmed two of its terrorists targeted the march. The Sunni terror group considers Shiites to be apostates
At least 60 people were killed and 200 were wounded after an ISIS suicide bomber targeted a major protest in Kabul earlier today.
Thousands of members of the minority Shiite Hazara community were protesting over a proposed power line when the explosion went off.
Ambulances were struggling to reach the scene as authorities had overnight blocked key intersections with stacked shipping containers to prevent protesters from marching on the presidential palace.
Thousands of Hazara Shiite minority community members were protesting in Kabul when they were attacked
The explosion killed at least 20 people and injured scores of others during today’s Kabul protest march
Survivors were treated at the scene and rushed away by ambulances amid chaotic scenes in the city
Thousands of minority Shiite Hazaras demonstrate in Kabul on shortly before the terrorist attack
Hudnreds of people were wounded after the two terrorists detonated their explosives amid the massive crowd
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack which has killed at least 60 people and injured more than 200 with further casualties expected
Thousands of demonstrators had gathered to demand that a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan with a large Hazara population.
Amnesty International said: ‘The horrific attack on a group of peaceful protestors in Kabul demonstrates the utter disregard that armed groups have for human life.
‘Such attacks are a reminder that the conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down, as some believe, but escalating, with consequences for the human rights situation in the country that should alarm us all.’
In a statement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the carnage, adding that the casualties included security officials.
He said: ‘Peaceful protest is the right of every citizen, but opportunist terrorists infiltrated the crowds and carried out the attack, killing and injuring a number of citizens including some security forces.’
The protest march was largely peaceful before the explosion struck as the demonstrators sought to march on the presidential palace, waving flags and chanting slogans such as ‘death to discrimination’.
The commander of U.S. and NATO armed forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, condemned the attack.
He said: ‘Our condolences go out to those who are affected by today’s attack. We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan’s enemies of peace and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government.’
The United States has 9.800 troops in Afghanistan working with Afghan forces against the Taliban, Islamic State and other insurgent groups.
A WAR BETWEEN MUSLIMS: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUNNI AND SHIITE BRANCHES OF ISLAM?
Sunni military insurgencies such as ISIS believe the Hazara people to be apostates, given their identity as Shia Muslims.
The two main branches of Islam, Sunni and Shiite, disagree over who should succeed the Prophet Mohammed, who died in 632.
Some felt his successor should be chosen from among his followers, while others – the ‘Shiite Ali’ or Partisans of Ali – believed the position should stay within the prophet’s family and that Mohammed had backed his cousin Ali for the post.
Shiite Muslims hold all of the prophet’s family, and particularly Ali and his sons Hassan and Hussein, in high esteem.
The two branches share many practices and beliefs, including the so-called five pillars of Islam that encompass fundamentals such as five daily prayers and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Shiite Muslims, however, consider Ali to be the first of a series of imams, who are successors to the prophet and provide models and guidance for the faithful.
Shiites believe in an unbroken line of 12 imams who succeeded the prophet, beginning with Ali, and that the twelfth imam is in occultation but will return to restore justice on earth before the day of judgment.
While Sunni Muslims deem the four men who succeeded Mohammed to be the ‘rightly guided’ caliphs, they do not place any particular significance on the religious practices of the leaders who came after them.
According to a 2015 study by the Pew Forum, there are just under 1.6billion Muslims worldwide. Sunnis are generally thought to constitute up to 90 per cent of the population of Muslims, with the rest divided between different Shiite branches.
Iran is traditionally regarded as the most powerful and important Shiite-majority country in the world, with Shiites also forming a majority in the neighbouring Iraq and Bahrain.
Despite being in the minority in Syria, Shiites are also powerful there, too. President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling party belongs to a Shia sect called the Alawites.