Massacre at Hazara ceremony in Kabul

Gunmen stormed a memorial ceremony honoring a martyred leader of the Hazara Shi'ite minority in Afghanistan's capital March 6. Key politicians including chief executive  Abdullah Abdullah were on hand for the commemoration of the Hazara Mujahedeen commander Abdul Ali Mazari, who was assassinated by the Taliban in 1995. At least 27 people were killed in the attack, and some 30 more wounded. Soon after the massacre, the Taliban issued a statement denying responsibility. Shortly after that, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed the attack in a communique, and also asserted that the actual death toll was 150. An ISIS-claimed attack on the same ceremony last year saw a barrage of mortar fire that killed at least 11 people. The new attack comes just as a tentative "peace deal" with the Taliban is raising concerns for the fate of Afghanistan's ethnic and religious minorities. (Khaama Press, Defense Post, NYT, The Fortress)

Massacre at Sikh temple in Kabul

At least 25 people were killed and around 10 injured when suicide attackers stormed a Sikh place of worship in the Afghan capital, triggering a six-hour standoff with security forces. The attackers targeted a dharamshala in Shor Bazar area of Kabul, which has a sizeable population of the Hindu and Sikh minorities. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State. (Hindustan Times)

Bomb attack on funeral for slain Sikhs in Kabul

An explosion disrupted the funeral services for 25 members of Afghanistan's Sikh community who were killed earlier this week in an attack by ISIS militants on their temple. The interior ministry said that no one was hurt when the device detonated near the crematorium where the ceremonies were taking place. (NewEurope)

HRW urges Afghanistan to prosecute captured ISKP leader

Human Rights Watch is calling on the Afghan government to bring war crime charges against captured militant leader Aslam Farooqi. The arrest of Farooqi was announced by Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security on April 4. He is named the leader of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). (HRW)

More terror in Kabul

A suicide bomber on April 29 targeted a base belonging to Afghan special operations forces on the southern outskirts of the capital, Kabul, killing at least three civilians and wounding 15. The government blamed the Taliban for the attack, which took place a day after the country’s defense minister Gen. Assadullah Khalid, and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, visited the facility. (AP)

Afghanistan hospital attack a 'war crime'

An attack on a hospital maternity ward in Kabul that killed at least 14 civilians, including two newborn babies, is likely a war crime, rights groups say. 

Gunmen stormed the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Afghanistan's capital on May 12. Witnesses told reporters the assailants shot people at random, including mothers, nurses, and children. The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières runs a 30-bed maternity unit at the hospital.

"An attack on a maternity clinic is simply unspeakable," said Patricia Gossman, Human Rights Watch’s associate Asia director.

Shaharzad Akbar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said newborns were essentially "targeted in a war they and their mothers had no part in."

Taliban militants have denied involvement in the hospital attack. However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he would order the country's military to resume an "offensive" stance following the assault.

The Kabul neighborhood home to the hospital is a mostly Shia area that has seen previous attacks linked to the Afghan offshoot of the so-called Islamic State, whose fighters have battled both the Taliban and the government.

The hospital assault was among at least four separate attacks across the country that killed dozens in total this week, including a bomb blast at a funeral in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The violence adds yet another hurdle to Afghanistan's stalled peace process. Planned talks between the Taliban and the government have stumbled over the disputed issue of prisoner releases.

The UN says attacks on healthcare centers and health workers have sharply risen in recent years, including 75 "incidents" last year. Conflict often forces the closure of health clinics, cutting off access to under-served rural areas. In 2019, roughly 24,000 hours of healthcare delivery were lost due to "forced closure and destruction," the UN said. (TNH)