Karzai says Afghan bombings unprecedented on holy day

6th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday that twin bomb attacks which killed at least 58 people at Afghan shrines were the first "terrorist" acts on an important holy day.

It was "the first time that, on such an important religious day in Afghanistan, terrorism of that horrible nature is taking place," Karzai said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The attacks occurred just a day after an international conference in Bonn on the future of Afghanistan after NATO troops pull out at the end of 2014.

Karzai also appealed to Afghanistan's neighbour Pakistan, which boycotted the Bonn meeting, saying it had "a very important role to play in the peace process in Afghanistan".

The bombings -- one in Kabul which ripped through a crowd of worshippers including children, and another in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif -- took place on the Shiite holy day of Ashura.

Merkel also expressed her condolences over the attacks, saying they showed "we must continue to work hard in order to be able to ensure security in Afghanistan".

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he condemned "these acts of terror in the strongest terms".

"They again show that we still have a long path ahead of us in our commitment to a peaceful future for Afghanistan," he said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for te attacks. Sectarian violence has been rare in Afghanistan but when the Sunni Taliban ruled in the 1990s, minority Shiites from the Hazara group suffered brutal persecution.

"In the past many years, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been suffering serious consequences of terrorism and the growth of radicalism in the region and in particular in the two countries," Karzai told reporters.

"Pakistan unfortunately suffers from the presence of (militant) sanctuaries there," he said.

"Unless we address the sanctuaries and unless we work together towards a comprehensive understanding of our problems and towards the eradication of radicalism we will neither see peace in Afghanistan nor peace and stability in Pakistan."

At Monday's conference, delegates pledged sustained support for Afghanistan for another decade, in exchange for clear progress on good governance.

© 2011 AFP

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