Hundreds of Shi’ite Muslims have demonstrated in western Afghanistan against increasing attacks by radical Islamic groups.
Chanting “Death to the enemies of Afghanistan!” and yelling slogans against Islamic State (IS) group militants, protesters marched to the governor’s office in the city of Herat on January 3 carrying photos of Shi’ite friends and relatives killed in recent attacks.
Herat, which borders predominantly Shi’ite Iran, recently witnessed a surge in attacks on Shi’ite mosques.
A Muslim prayer leader was killed and five others were wounded in an attack on January 1.
“This is a dangerous trend and we want the government to protect us,” said one protester.
IS militants were largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, one year ago, but the government said they have greatly expanded their presence since then.
Najibullah Mani, head of the Interior Ministry’s Counterterrorism Department, said in Herat on January 3 that IS militants are now active in “at least 11 [of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces].”
In July, IS militants targeted Kabul’s Shi’ite community in a suicide bombing that killed more than 80 people and wounded 130.