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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Afghans bury Kabul mosque attack dead as toll rises to 28

Distraught relatives and friends carried coffins into the cemetery one by one, a day after the latest deadly attack claimed by ISIL on Afghanistan's reeling minority Shiite community

Hundreds of mourners began burying the victims of a suicide bomb and gun attack on a Shiite Kabul mosque on Saturday as the death toll from the atrocity rose to 28.

Initial reports said that 12 people were killed in the attack.

Distraught relatives and friends carried coffins into the cemetery one by one, a day after the latest deadly attack claimed by ISIL on Afghanistan's reeling minority Shiite community.

Four attackers setting off explosions and firing gunshots laid siege to the Emam Zaman mosque in the north of Afghanistan's capital for four hours as dozens of men, women, and children gathered for Friday prayers.

In scenes that have become all too depressingly familiar in the war-torn country recently, wailing mourners gathered at the mosque on Saturday to lay the bodies of the dead side by side in graves.

"We used to attend ceremonies such as Ashura together in this mosque, but today I am burying their bodies here," Hussain Ali, who lost a friend in the attack, told AFP.

"This is not the first time, it keeps happening. The government has failed to provide us security. Even today in this ceremony people are worried lest something will happen," he added.

ISIL claimed the attack, which also wounded 50 people, through its propaganda outlet Amaq.

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Shiites, a minority of around three million in overwhelmingly Sunni Afghanistan, have regularly been targeted by ISIL jihadists over the past year, providing a sectarian twist to years of conflict in the war-weary country.

They accuse security forces of not doing enough to protect them.

Earlier this month 33 worshippers were killed and 66 wounded in a suicide attack claimed by ISIL on a Shiite mosque in the western Afghan city of Herat.

Twin explosions in July 2016 ripped through crowds of Shiite Hazaras, killing at least 85 people and wounding more than 400.

The burials came as an official said the death toll from Friday's attack, which again underlined Afghanistan's deteriorating security situation, had increased to 28.

"The latest death toll from Kabul hospitals is 28 killed, including three women, and around 50 wounded, including over a dozen women and children," Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi, a health ministry spokesman, told AFP.