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Norouz Attack In Kabul Kills At Least Six; IS Claims Responsibility


An Afghan policeman walks near the site of an explosion in Kabul on March 21
An Afghan policeman walks near the site of an explosion in Kabul on March 21

Multiple explosions have killed at least six people and wounded 23 near a Shi'ite shrine in Kabul, Afghan officials say.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the March 21 attack, which took place during celebrations marking Norouz, the pre-Islamic Persian new year.

Two children were among the wounded in the blasts, Kabul's Emergency Services director Muhammad Asim said.

There were conflicting reports about the cause of the blasts near the Karti Sakhi Shi'ite shrine and cemetery in a western Kabul neighborhood that is heavily populated by Shi'ite Muslims.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said an initial investigation indicated that three explosive devices had been remotely detonated, setting off the successive blasts as people gathered there to mark Norouz.

But Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said on Twitter that three rockets had been fired at civilian homes and Norouz gatherings -- adding that security forces arrested the attackers and secured the area.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, saying on Twitter: "As we celebrate this auspicious day to bind us together our fellow citizens witnessed another devastating day in Kabul.

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

Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying on the Telegram messaging service that "soldiers of the caliphate" detonated three explosive devices among a Shi'ite crowd near a shrine.

IS claimed 50 people were killed and wounded in the attack.

The extremist group considers Shi'ite Muslims to be heretics.

All routes to the Shi'ite shrine were cordoned off by security forces, a local live TV broadcast showed.

Traditionally, people hoist green flags at the shrine and honor the dead at the cemetery by placing food beside graves.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa

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