Blasts Against Hazara Demonstration In Kabul Lead To 61 Dead, 207 Wounded

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 10:10:12 by

On Saturday, a fierce explosion ripped through crowds of minority Hazaras in Kabul who had assembled to protest over a power line. According to statements made by the Afghan public health ministry, at least 61 people were killed and 207 injured.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blast. However, it comes in the middle of the Taliban’s annual summer onslaught, which the militants are publicizing following a short break during the recent holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi reported that “The death toll has risen to 61 and 207 others have been wounded,” further saying that there is a possibility of the toll rising.

Most Afghans are Sunni but most Hazaras are Shia Muslims.

Ramin Anwari, an eyewitness, said he saw about eight bodies in the Demazang area, where protesters were planning to set up camp after marching for four hours.

Laila Mohammadi, one of the march organisers claimed that she arrived at the scene not long after the blast to find  “many dead and wounded people”.

Pictures posted on social media and footage on Afghan television revealed a scene of bloodshed, with numerous bodies and body parts scattered across the square.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Seddq Sediqqi mentioned that police were working to confirm previous reports of the blast.

Many feared violence at what was considered as the second protest by Hazaras over the power line problem.

The previous one in May drew tens of thousands of people, which led to the shutdown of the central business district.

It was attended by Hazara political leaders, whose absence was noticed on Saturday. During the march, demonstrators shouted slogans against President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and yelled “death to discrimination” and “all Afghans are equal”.

The TUTAP line is supported by the Asian Development Bank with the involvement of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The main plan directed the line through Bamiyan province, in the central highlands, an area where most of the country’s Hazaras reside.

The previous Afghan government altered the route in 2013. Leaders of the marches claim that the rerouting was proof of evidence of bias against the Hazara community, which amounts for up to 15 percent of Afghanistan’s estimated 30 million population.

They are seen as the poorest of the country’s ethnic groups, and often make complaints of discrimination. Bamiyan has suffered from poverty, although it is rather peaceful and could possibly be a tourist destination.

Afghanistan is severely short of power, with less than 40 percent of the population connected to the national grid, based on reports from the World Bank. Almost 75 percent of electricity is imported.

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