IS suicide bomber kills 31 as Afghans celebrate new year


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Islamic State group suicide bomber struck on the road to a Shiite shrine in Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people as Afghans celebrated the Persian new year, authorities said.

Wahid Majro, spokesman for The Public Health Ministry, said 65 people were wounded in the attack, which was carried out by a bomber on foot.

IS claimed the attack in an online statement, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites. The group said the attack targeted “a gathering of Shiites celebrating Nowruz.”

The Persian new year, known in Afghanistan as Nowruz, is a national holiday, and the country’s minority Shiites typically celebrate by visiting shrines. The Sunni extremists of IS have repeatedly targeted Shiites, who they view as apostates deserving of death.

The attack took place near Kabul University and a government hospital, around one kilometer (mile) away from the Sakhi shrine, where people were gathered to celebrate the new year, said Gen. Daud Amin, Kabul’s police chief.

Daud said the attacker managed to slip past police checkpoints set up along the road. He said an investigation into the security breach is underway, and that anyone found to have neglected his duties would be punished.

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