KABUL -- An explosion has ripped through a mostly Shi’ite area of Kabul, killing at least two people and injuring 22 others in the second blast in two days in the Afghan capital that has been claimed by Sunni-led Islamic State (IS) militants.
The blast on August 6 hit the Sukhteh Pul area of Kabul, home to many of the city's Shi’ite Muslim population.
A Taliban-appointed police spokesman said one of the wounded was in critical condition.
In a statement on its Telegram channel late on August 6, IS said it carried out the attack. A day earlier, at least eight people were killed and 18 wounded in a Shi'ite residential area of Kabul in a blast claimed by IS.
The attacks came ahead of Ashura, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, which is marked mainly by Shi'ite Muslims.
A witness told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi that “a powerful explosion” hit an area filled with shops frequented by the Shi’ite population.
"Currently, ambulances from the area are transporting the wounded and the dead to hospitals in Kabul city," the witness said.
Jawed, a Kabul resident, told Radio Azadi that "we call on the Taliban forces to protect our security so that we can freely mourn [the martyrdom of Hussein."
Following the August 5 blast, the Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a tweet that Taliban officials should prevent “such indiscriminate” attacks.
“UNAMA condemns yesterday's attack in a majority-Shi’a area of Kabul causing dozens of casualties. De facto authorities must prevent such indiscriminate attacks, launch thorough & transparent investigation. Our condolences to families of the killed & speedy recovery for the injured,” it said.
Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights for Afghanistan, condemned the blast and said the perpetrators should be brought to justice.
Since taking power following the withdrawal of NATO-led forces in August 2021, the Taliban has failed to achieve recognition for its government, with many in the West demanding that the group respect the rights of women and minorities in the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the Taliban had "grossly violated" negotiated agreements by hosting and sheltering Ayman al-Zawahri, the Al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul in early August.
The Taliban leadership said it was unaware of Zawahri’s presence in the capital, although a source told Radio Azadi that he was living in a guest house owned by Taliban-installed Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.