Afghanistan: At least six killed in blasts as Kabul marks Persian New Year

Representative image Photograph:( ANI )

AFP Kabul, Afghanistan Mar 21, 2019, 01.52 PM (IST)

At least six people were killed by blasts in Kabul Thursday during Persian New Year celebrations in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital, authorities said, in the latest violence to hit the war-torn city.

"Twenty-three were wounded and six people were martyred (killed) in today's explosions in Kabul," health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar told AFP, with the interior ministry confirming the toll.

In a message to AFP, the Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, which police said had been caused by three remote-controlled mines -- one placed in the washroom of a mosque, one behind a hospital, and one in an electricity meter.

The blasts were near Kabul University and the Karte Sakhi shrine, where many Afghans gather every year to mark Nawrooz, which is the traditional Persian New Year holiday but considered un-Islamic by Muslim fundamentalists.

"As we celebrate this auspicious day to bind us together our fellow citizens witnessed another devastating day in #Kabul," President Ashraf Ghani wrote on Twitter.

"We lost peaceful citizens to a coward enemy that knows no bounds."

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said a fourth mine was defused near Kabul University, and that authorities were searching for any others that may have been placed in the area.

But he added that the mines were far from the main site of the celebrations.

Exactly one year ago, a blast near a crowd celebrating at the shrine killed 33 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

IS, which regularly targets Shiites in an attempt to stir up sectarian violence in Sunni-majority Afghanistan, has also attacked the shrine once before, in October 2016, when its gunmen killed 18 people gathered there to mark Ashura, an important date for many Muslims, especially Shiites.

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In a message to AFP, the Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, which police said had been caused by three remote-controlled mines -- one placed in the washroom of a mosque, one behind a hospital, and one in an electricity meter.