Afghan women protest against attacks on community

Seven people were killed, one wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on rickshaw carrying 2 Shiite clerics, Herat intelligence says

December 04, 2023
A Taliban fighter stands guard as Afghan women shout slogans during a protest rally in Kabul. — AFP/File

HERAT, Afghanistan: Dozens of Shiite women demonstrated in western Afghanistan on Sunday against attacks on the Muslim minority at the funeral of several members of their community killed days before.

The women shouted, “Death to the murderers” and “We need security” during the funeral in Herat city´s Jebrael area, Hussain Azimi, a member of the ulama, or council of religious scholars, told AFP.

They were among several hundred people gathered to mourn six victims of the attack in Herat on Friday.

Seven people were killed and one wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a rickshaw carrying two Shiite clerics, the Herat intelligence department said.

Locals said four women were among the dead and that both clerics were killed.

That followed the reported killings of three other Shiite clerics in the province in late November and October, attacks called “highly concerning” by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett in a recent post on social media site X.

The interior ministry condemned Friday´s attack in a statement as a “terrorist incident”.

Shiites are a minority in Afghanistan and are drawn mostly from the Hazara community, a frequent target of attacks by militants from the Islamic State (IS) group, who consider them heretics.

Violence has reduced dramatically since the Taliban ended their insurgency after seizing power in August 2021, but several armed groups -- including the regional chapter of IS -- remain a threat.