Gunmen attacked a minibus in Afghanistan, 13 killed

A group of unknown gunmen killed 13 people after an attack on a minibus in northern province of Afghanistan on Saturday.

The victims, all men, were plucked from their vehicles in Zari district of Balkh province and shot dead from close range in a rare attack targeting ethnic minorities. They spared the life of one woman who was in one of the vehicles. All the victims belonged to the Shia Hazara ethnic minority, who were persecuted by the Sunni Taliban during their rule in 1996-2001.

“The gunmen stopped two vehicles, lined up all the male passengers and shot them dead,” said Jafar Haidari, the governor of Zari district in Balkh.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, but it comes as Taliban insurgents’ ramp up attacks amid a bitter relationship transition. The latest killings came as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani implored international donors for their continued support, saying the country faced a host of security and economic challenges.

“Rebuilding Afghanistan is going to be a long-term endeavour,” said Afghan President Ghani at a conference in Kabul. “Afghanistan is a wounded country. Widespread unemployment, a violent insurgency, and the advance of extremism across the region are increasing the likelihood that (our) economic reform agenda will be undone by political unrest.”

In the recent months, the brutal assaults targeting Shia minority is becoming a norm in the region. Another similar attack occurred in March this year in Wardak province south of Kabul, where gunmen opened fire on a bus and killed 13 passengers.

The Taliban insurgents have stepped up the terrorist activities particularly targeting the Afghan security forces after a leadership succession dispute in the organization. Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was named as the new chief in July, but the power transition has been acrimonious. IMAGE/skynews

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