Kabul Sakhi shrine: ‘Dozens dead’ in suicide attack
Afghan policemen sealed off the site of the latest blast
At least 26 people have been killed and 18 wounded in a suspected suicide bomb attack near a shrine in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials say.Initial reports suggest the bomber attacked a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered to celebrate the start of Nowruz, the New Year festival. Many in the crowd were minority Shia. Reports say the number killed may rise. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Sectarian attacks on Shias have increased in recent years.Many have been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.An interior ministry spokesman told the BBC a suicide attacker approached the Sakhi shrine on foot and detonated his explosives when identified by police. The blast occurred outside Ali Abad hospital, close to Kabul University in the west of the city, he said.Scores of people were killed in a wave of Taliban and IS attacks on Kabul in January, underlining the city’s fragile security. Taliban threaten 70% of Afghanistan, BBC finds
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One attack, claimed by the Taliban, was the deadliest for months. An ambulance packed with explosives killed more than 100 people in the Chicken Street shopping area.
Bomb attacks – like this one earlier in March – have killed many in Kabul
Both the Taliban and IS seem to be focusing their energies on carrying out attacks in Kabul, correspondents say. US and Afghan officials say this is in response to air strikes and other security operations which have pushed the militants back in some areas. But it’s also possible the militants see attacks on the capital as a more effective way of undermining confidence in the government than trying to capture and retain territory in rural areas.How strong are the militants?The Taliban control large swathes of Afghanistan – and IS militants hold sway in a much smaller number of districts. However, both groups have demonstrated their ability to hit targets across the country.They have often come into conflict with each other, too.How successful has IS been in Afghanistan?
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