ISIS claims bombing targeting Shias in north Afghanistan

The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility on Friday for two bombings in the country’s north that targeted the country’s minority Hazara ethnic group a day earlier.

The car bombings Thursday in Mazar-e-Sharif killed at least nine people and wounded 13 others, according to local Taliban officials.

The Hazaras are mostly Shia Muslims, who ISIS consider heretics. An ISIS statement said 30 Shias were killed or wounded in the two attacks.

Afghanistan’s minority Shia Muslims are reviled by Sunni radicals like ISIS, and have been targeted in a series of bombings in the past week.

The ISIS affiliate known as ISIS in Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, has attacked mosques, public buses and schools.

The worst such bombing occurred last week, also in Mazar-e-Sharif, when a powerful bomb killed 33 worshipers as they knelt in prayer, as well as students of an adjacent religious school.

While criticism of the Taliban’s hardline edicts have drawn widespread criticism, most international observers have noted increased security throughout the country since their sweep to power last August.

But the deadly ISIS-K is proving to be one of the Taliban’s greatest challenges. Despite Taliban raids on ISIS-K strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, attacks continue at a steady pace.

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