January 3, 2017
People in western Afghanistan have staged a massive protest against growing sectarian attacks on Shia Muslims by the Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
About 2,000 demonstrators, holding pictures of Shia Muslims killed in recent terrorist attacks, marched on the governor’s office in the city of Herat on Tuesday.
The protesters chanted slogans such as “Death to the enemies of Afghanistan!” and “Death to Daesh!”
Herat recently witnessed a surge in attacks on mosques belonging to Shia Muslims. A prayer leader was killed and five others wounded in one such attack on Sunday.
Qurban Ali, a 40-year-old demonstrator, said Daesh terrorists were desperately attempting to fuel sectarian strife by mounting attacks on Shia religious sites.
“Daesh attacks on our mosques are increasing every day. They want to create a rift between Shias and Sunnis,” Ali said, adding, “This is a dangerous trend and we want the government to protect us.”
Jawad, another protester who was identified by one name, said, “We will not allow Daesh to make Afghanistan another Syria. The government must come up with a plan to protect Shias.”
Until a few months ago, Daesh was largely confined to the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan. The group has earned notoriety for brutality including beheadings across the volatile region.
Afghan government officials recently warned that the group had expanded its foothold into some other provinces as well.
Najeebullah Mani, the head of counter-terrorism at the Afghan Interior Ministry, told reporters in Herat this week that the group was steadily expanding into other provinces.
“Our initial information shows Daesh is behind the recent attacks in Herat. They are expanding and are always looking for new geographical areas,” Mani said, adding, “They are present in at least 11 (of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces). Their main goal is to create sectarian divisions between Shiites and Sunnis.”
Over the past months, Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in terror activities by Daesh.
In October 2016, at least 14 Shia Muslims lost their lives in a powerful blast at a mosque in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The attack was carried out hours after gunmen targeted worshippers at a shrine in the capital, Kabul, and killed 18 people.
In August, Daesh claimed responsibility for a bombing during a demonstration held by the Shia Hazara community in Kabul, where at least 85 people were killed.
The rise of Daesh in Afghanistan has triggered concerns in a country that has already been torn apart by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion of the United States and its allies.
Daesh, mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has reportedly managed to take recruits from Taliban defectors in Afghanistan.