Afghan Shi’ites brace for attacks ahead of Ashura celebration

PG81-14Source: Reuters

By Abdul Qadir SediqiJames Mackenzie

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan police and volunteer groups of armed civilians tightened controls across the capital Kabul on Wednesday ahead of Ashura, the holiest day of the Shi’ite Muslim calendar, following a series of attacks on Shi’ite targets by Islamic State militants.

Armed men stood at key points in areas like Dasht-e Barchi, a zone in western Kabul where many members of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority live and where some 20 people were killed in a suicide attack on a wrestling club two weeks ago.

For Shi’ites, Ashura, on the 10th day of the month of Muharram, commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, one of the grandsons of the Prophet Mohammad, and is marked by large public processions that have been targeted by attackers in the past.

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