UN: Attacks on places of worship in Afghanistan on rise

 08 Nov 2017 - 12:23

UN: Attacks on places of worship in Afghanistan on rise
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KABUL, Afghanistan: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday expressed concern over the disturbing pattern of attacks on civilians in places of worship.

In a special report, the UN mission documented a sharp increase in attacks on places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, including attacks on Shia Muslim places of worship and congregations. 

Since Jan. 1, 2016, the mission recorded 833 civilian casualties -- 261 killed and 572 injured -- in 42 attacks targeting places of worship, religious leaders and worshipers.

Last month, a Shia and a Sunni community mosques in different provinces were hit by suicide bombers, killing as many as 84. 

IS terror group claimed responsibility for the attack at a mosque in Kabul that killed up to 54 people on Oct. 20. Another attack on the same day targeted a Sunni community mosque in the central Ghor province, apparently aimed at a local militia commander Fazal Ahmad Khan, and ending up killing 30 people.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani termed the attacks as crimes against humanity, contrary to all Islamic values and human rights. 

In its report, the UN mission said civilian casualties from such attacks since the beginning of 2016 represent nearly double the cumulative total documented attacks between 2009 and 2015. 

“Respect the law, stop targeting worshipers and religious leaders,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan as well as head of UNAMA.

The report also called for anti-government Elements to immediately cease targeting worshippers and religious leaders.