Suicide bomber kills dozens in Kabul mosque attack

Afghan municipality workers sweep Baqir-ul Ulom mosque after a suicide attack, in Kabul. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2016

Suicide bomber kills dozens in Kabul mosque attack

KABUL: A suicide bomber killed more than 30 people and wounded dozens on Monday in an explosion at a crowded Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials said, the third major attack on minority Shiites in the city since July.
 
The attacker entered the Baqir-ul-Olum mosque shortly after midday.
 
Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police Criminal Investigation Department, said at least 27 people were killed and 35 wounded.
 
The United Nations said at least 32 had been killed and more than 50 wounded, including many children. It described the attack as “an atrocity.”
 
“I saw people screaming and covered in blood,” one survivor told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television, adding that around 40 dead and 80 wounded had been taken from the building before rescue services arrived at the scene.
 
Another witness said he had helped carry 30-35 bodies from the mosque.
 
Last month, 18 people were killed when a gunman in police uniform opened fire on worshippers gathered at a shrine in Kabul.
 
In addition, at least 14 people were killed in an attack on a Shiite mosque in northern Balkh province, for which no group has so far claimed responsibility.
 
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack, but the Taliban, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after they were toppled from power in 2001, denied any involvement.
 
“We have never attacked mosques as it’s not our agenda,” said the movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.
 
Officials said the attack was a deliberate attempt to stoke sectarian tensions.
 
Any resurgence of sectarian or ethnic violence could threaten the fragile stability of the government headed by President Ashraf Ghani, who described the mosque blast as an attempt “to sow seeds of discord.”
 
Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Afghanistan should not fall victim to “enemy plots that divide us by titles.”
 
“This attack targeted innocent civilians — including children — in a holy place. It is a war crime & an act against Islam & humanity,” he said in a message on his Twitter account.

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Updated 1 min 38 sec ago

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

BERLIN: Germany said Friday that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.
“A form of ‘nuclear agreement plus’ is needed, which also lies in our interest,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
“We have clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
The European Union and the United States were key signatories in the deal but US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has signalled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal, saying on Thursday: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”
He added that Western powers should look to their own behavior before criticizing Iran.
He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions dramatically escalated after Trump walked out of the deal.
In recent months, alarm has also grown over Iran’s regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which the West says destabilizes the region.