Pakistan News

No let-up in Afghan violence as seven Hazaras killed in new attack

JALALABAD: At least seven members of Afghanistan’s persecuted Hazara ethnic group were brutally murdered in the country’s restive east, officials said on Thursday, in the latest attack to target the largely Shia minority.

The group of migrant Hazara labourers had their hands bound behind their backs and were shot to death on Wednesday night, according to Nangarhar provincial council member Ajmal Omar.

Juma Gul Hemat — Nangarhar’s provincial police chief — confirmed the murders, adding that four people had been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation.

The incident occurred roughly 20km from the eastern city of Jalalabad near the Pakistan border — an area where a large number of militants are believed to have influence, including the Taliban and the local affiliate of the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

No group has claimed responsibility for murders

No group has claimed responsibility for the murders.

Jalalabad has been hit hard by targeted killings in the last week with three female media workers gunned down in the city’s streets on Tuesday in separate attacks that occurred just minutes apart.

A female doctor was also killed by an explosion in Jalalabad.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province in which Jalalabad is the main city, said the doctor was on her way to work in a rickshaw on Thursday morning when she was killed in the blast. A child was also wounded.

Khogyani did not name the doctor but said she worked in the maternity ward of a private hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

For years, the Hazara have increasingly taken the brunt of rising violence across Afghanistan with IS suicide bombers attacking their mosques, schools, rallies and hospitals.

The Hazaras make up roughly 10 to 20 per cent of the Afghan population and have long been persecuted for their faith in a country wracked by deep ethnic divisions.

The Taliban have also targeted the group over the years, kidnapping and killing Hazara commuters travelling on the country’s perilous roads with near impunity.

During the Taliban’s brief rule of the country in the 1990s, the jihadists were also accused of massacring large numbers of the group.

The Hazara have also been targeted outside of Afghanistan.

In January, a group of Hazara miners most of whom were Afghan nationals — were brutally killed in another execution-styled massacre claimed by IS in Pakistan.

The Taliban and Afghan government are holding peace talks in Doha, though progress has slowed while US President Joe Biden’s administration reviews its plans for the peace process and the withdrawal of troops.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2021

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