Amnesty: Kabul attack on Shiites is 'war crime'

A blast that rocked western Kabul has claimed the lives of at least 25 people

The standoff lasted for almost six hours before police killed the gunmen and secured the area.

It is a view shared by USA commanders in Afghanistan, who said that Islamic State, while based in Nangarhar, had sought to extend its influence in other parts of Afghanistan by hitting soft targets like schools and mosques.

Special units had arrived at the scene, Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said.

Abdul Hossain Hossainzada, a Shiite community leader in western Kabul, told The Associated Press that the bomber apparently targeted the course, which was preparing students for university entrance exams.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the attackers were firing rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons.

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The attack comes after a bloody week in Afghanistan.

IS, which considers Shiites to be heretics, frequently targets them, attacking their mosques, schools and cultural centers.

Families of the dead held a mass funeral Thursday where mourners wept and clutched the wooden coffins.

He says the victims are being taken to various hospitals in Kabul and that he fears the death toll would rise further. I.S., however, has carried out multiple attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital in recent months, and has increasingly targeted the Shia minority. The Taliban is a nationalist Islamist group unlike the IS, whose ideology calls for a caliphate that binds Muslims worldwide.

With parliamentary elections due on October 20, the government had been bracing for more attacks in Kabul and other cities, even while hopes of peace talks with the Taliban had been fuelled by a three day truce during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June.

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Last Friday, hundreds of Taliban fighters had launched an attack on Ghazni, the capital of the Ghazni province, leading to five days of clashes between the rebels and the security forces that killed almost 500 people, including 326 Taliban fighters, and over one hundred members of the security forces. Scores of Taliban were also killed, according to Afghan officials.

The fighting is estimated to have caused 50 million US dollars in damages as scores of shops, buildings, mobile phone towers, houses and government offices were destroyed and burned during the five days fierce clashes.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban attacked a police checkpoint in the southern Zabul province early Wednesday, killing four policemen, according to the provincial police chief, Mustafa Mayar.

"Twenty million dollars will be allocated immediately for reconstruction of government buildings and other parts of Ghazni City", Ghani said in an address to the residents and officials.

Amnesty International on Thursday denounced the Kabul attack on the Shiites, calling it a war crime.

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