Islamic State claims responsibility for mosque shooting in western Afghanistan that killed six people

Islamic State, Afghanistan
Image Source : AP Islamic State group

Herat: The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a deadly shooting this week targeting members of Afghanistan’s minority Shiite community inside a mosque in western Herat that resulted in the deaths of six people. Gunmen attacked the mosque on Monday night during prayer time, killing at least five people, according to the provincial governor.

The dead included a woman and a child, and three people were also injured, Mawlawi Nesar Ahmad Alyes, spokesman for Herat province’s governor, said on Tuesday. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, as per the group’s Telegram channel on late Tuesday. The terror group said one of its own members attacked a “Shiite temple” in Herat province with machine-gun fire.

Local media reported that the mosque’s imam was among those killed. Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying on the social media platform X that he considers “this terrorist act against all religious and human standards.” The Taliban Interior Ministry has said that an investigation is underway.

UN condemns attack

The IS affiliate in Afghanistan is a major Taliban rival and frequently targets schools, hospitals, mosques and Shiite areas throughout the country. The latest attack was condemned by the UN mission in Afghanistan, which called for urgent accountability for perpetrators and protection measures for Shiite measures.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, during the last weeks of the chaotic departure of US and NATO troops from the country after 20 years of war. Despite initial promises of a more moderate stance, the Taliban gradually reimposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, as they did during their previous rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban has said they are focused on restoring security since taking over in 2021, but attacks targeting mosques, religious seminaries and government buildings have continued despite an end to the 20-year war. Many attacks have been claimed by the militant Islamic State group. 

The western Herat province, which borders Iran, is predominantly home to the Shiite religious minority, which has been on the receiving end of some of the most violent attacks against civilians in Afghanistan’s bloody history.

People desperate for security measures

Meanwhile, people in the Herat province of Afghanistan have called for security after the deadly Mosque attack. Mohammad Zaman, a resident of Herat, called for securing the place of worship and said, “It is the nation’s demand that the government should secure all mosques and should pay more attention to this matter.”

This attack occurred five months after gunmen attacked residents, including two Shia clergy, in the Jabriyal neighbourhood west of Herat City. That attack killed six persons, two of whom were women. Residents of Herat have demanded the identification and conviction of those guilty of attacks on people in their province.

The most notorious attack linked to the Islamic State since the Taliban takeover was in 2022 when at least 53 people, including 46 girls and young women, were slain in the suicide bombing at an education centre in a Shia neighbourhood of Kabul. The Taliban officials blamed the group for the attack but later claimed that they had eliminated the Islamic State from Afghanistan and are highly sensitive to suggestions the group has found safe haven in the country since the withdrawal of foreign forces.

(with inputs from agencies)

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