Blasts kill 9 in Mazar-e-Sharif

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From Mona Wardag

KABUL: Bombs exploded aboard two passenger vans carrying Shi’ite Muslims in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, killing at least nine people, an official said.
The blasts follow an explosion at a Shi’ite mosque in the city last week, which killed 11, as Afghanistan grapples with a rise in attacks by Islamic State following the withdrawal of foreign forces last year.
“The bombs were placed inside the vans; due to those blasts nine have been killed and 13 injured,” Mohammad Asif Wazeri, spokesman of Mazar-e-Sharif’s commander told media. The public transport vans were operated and used by the local Shi’ite community, he added.
No one has claimed the bombings yet, but the Shi’ite community, a minority Muslim sect in Afghanistan, is frequently attacked by Sunni militant groups, including Islamic State.
Taliban authorities who took over after the Western pullout said earlier this week they had eliminated most of Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan. But despite the assertion, attacks against Shi’ites continue in many parts of the country.
Last week, blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shi’ite Hazara area in western Kabul, killing at least six.
Last week, two bomb blasts at a boys’ school in the Afghan capital Kabul had killed at least six people and wounded more than 20, officials say.
The blasts happened at the Abdul Rahim Shahid high school in the Shia-dominated west of the city. The number of dead and wounded is likely to rise.
A nearby tuition centre was also targeted in a grenade attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Islamic State militants have attacked the area in the past.
Initial reports suggested Abdul Rahim Shahid pupils and staff may have been targeted by suicide bombers, but Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said improvised explosive devices had been left outside the school, killing six people.
“These are preliminary figures. We are at the site and waiting for more details,” he said. Officials had said the devices had been placed in backpacks, one of which had been detonated inside the school gates.