Suicide bomber kills 29 worshippers in Afghan mosque

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Afghan police officers inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Herat on Tuesday. (AFP / Hoshang Hashimi)
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Relatives mourn victims of a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
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Afghan police inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Herat on Tuesday. (AFP / Hoshang Hashimi)
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Updated 02 August 2017

Suicide bomber kills 29 worshippers in Afghan mosque

KABUL, Afghanistan: A suicide bomber stormed into the largest Shiite Muslim mosque in Afghanistan’s Herat province Tuesday night opening fire on worshippers before blowing himself up, killing at least 29 and wounding dozens more, said the provincial governor’s spokesman Jalani Farhad.
However Mehdi Hadid, a lawmaker from Herat, who went to the site soon after the explosion told The Associated Press that the scene was one of horrific carnage. He estimated at least 100 dead and wounded were scattered throughout the mosque. The attack took place in the middle of evening prayers when the mosque was packed with about 300 worshippers.
At Herat Main Hospital, Dr. Mohammed Rafique Shehrzai, confirmed 20 bodies were brought to the hospital in Herat city, the capital of western Herat province Tuesday night, soon after the blast shattered the late evening.
Hadid said he saw several pieces of a body that was being identified as the assailant. Although it’s not clear if there was a second attacker, witnesses in the area reported hearing a second explosion about 10 minutes after the initial bomber detonated his explosives.
Located just 50 meters (150 feet) away was an Afghan National Police station, but Hadid said the police were too frightened to take action and stood outside the mosque while the attack happened.
Residents were furious the police did not prevent the second explosion, although it is still not clear what caused it.
Dozens of local residents, who are mostly Shiites, attacked the police station pelting it with stones and setting it on fire, said Farhad.
Shiites are a minority in Afghanistan and have been threatened by the affiliate of the Daesh group that operates in the country’s east. Herat borders Iran whose capital Tehran was attacked by the so-called Islamic State in June. Herat has previously been the scene of several smaller attacks on Shiites.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on Herat’s Jawadia Mosque. However, after its attack on Monday on the Iraq Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul IS warned Shiites in Afghanistan that they are targets.
Hadid said he rushed to the mosque after hearing about the explosion. He was told the attacker first fired on the private guards outside the mosque before entering. When inside, he fired on the praying worshippers until his rifle jammed then he blew himself up.


India, Sri Lanka strengthen trade, security ties

Updated 29 November 2020

India, Sri Lanka strengthen trade, security ties

  • Colombo trilateral forum ends with pledge to improve intel sharing
  • Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled $4.59 billion in 2019

COLOMBO: India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval concluded a three-day visit to Colombo on Sunday after “fruitful discussions” with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on trade, new investments and security amid plans to bolster bilateral ties with the island nation.
“Had a fruitful discussion with Shri @Ajitdovalkumar, NSA #India this evening. National Sec, Sec in the Indian Ocean, new Indian investments, continuation of infrastructure proj. & strengthening bilateral relations between #SriLanka & #India were the areas discussed at the meeting,” Rajapaksa tweeted.
In a separate tweet after the meeting, the High Commission of India in Colombo acknowledged the “productive discussion” between the two officials.
“NSA Ajit Doval called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa & had a productive discussion. NSA Doval expressed hope that the India-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship would diversify and deepen further under the strong leadership of PM @narendramodi and President @GotabayaR @MEAIndia,” it said.
As one of Sri Lanka’s closest neighbors, India is among its top investors with cumulative investments amounting to more than $1.2 billion since 2003. 
According to the Indian Board of Investment, bilateral trade between the two countries totalled $4.59 billion in 2019.
Sri Lankan tourists are among the top 10 sources of revenue for India’s tourism sector, with more than 107,360 tourist visas issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo last year. However, tourism has suffered a setback since the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent global travel ban in March.
Doval took part in a trilateral forum with Maldivian Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi and Kamal Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s defense secretary, on Saturday, with officials from Mauritius and Seychelles attending virtually.
In a joint statement after the meeting, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense said that the 4th National Security Adviser-level trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation meeting had been revived after a six-year gap to expand the scope of intelligence sharing, including terrorism and cybersecurity, based on “common security threats.”
The first meeting was held in 2011 and, later, in New Delhi in 2014.
“We were able to resolve several maritime problems, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking and general security,” Brig. Chandana Wickremesinghe, a ministry spokesperson, told Arab News.
Current observers Bangladesh, Mauritius and Seychelles “will become permanent members soon,” he added.
“The Indian Ocean commands 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, has 80 percent of the world’s shipborne energy transport, and facilitates 46 percent of the world’s merchandise trade — maritime security remains one of our highest priorities,” Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said during his opening address at the forum.
The three countries also agreed to improve intelligence sharing and “focus on issues such as terrorism, radicalization, extremism, drugs, arms and human trafficking, money laundering, cybersecurity and climate change,” the statement said.
Muheed Jeeran, a lobbyist, told Arab News that the forum took place at the “right time” when other countries “were looking for a berth in the Indian Ocean.”
“The representatives of the three countries would have chalked out the preventive measures that could be adopted in case of a third-party interference,” Jeeran said.
Regional security “will lead to peace in the Indian Ocean,” he added.