Hundreds of Afghans Protest Daesh Killings
Around 2,000 Shiite Muslims in western Afghanistan staged a protest Tuesday against growing sectarian attacks by Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the terrorist ISIS/ISIL group], as the government warned that the group had expanded its foothold into 11 provinces.
Chanting "Death to the enemies of Afghanistan!" and "Death to Daesh!", the protesters in the city of Herat marched on the governor's office, carrying pictures of Afghans killed in recent attacks.
"Daesh attacks on our mosques are increasing every day. They want to create a rift between Shiites and Sunnis," Qurban Ali, a 40-year-old demonstrator, told AFP.
"This is a dangerous trend and we want the government to protect us."
The rise of Daesh has raised the specter of sectarian discord in Afghanistan, something that the Sunni-majority country has largely been spared despite decades of war.
Until a few months ago Daesh was largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar bordering Pakistan, where it is notorious for brutality including beheadings despite a US-backed offensive against the group.
But the government this week said the group was steadily expanding into other provinces.
"Our initial information shows Daesh is behind the recent attacks in Herat. They are expanding and are always looking for new geographical areas," Najeebullah Mani, head of counter-terrorism at the interior ministry, told reporters in Herat.
"They are present in at least 11 [of Afghanistan's 34 provinces]. Their main goal is to create sectarian divisions between Shiites and Sunnis."
Herat, which borders Iran, has recently witnessed a surge in attacks on the minority group's mosques.
A prayer leader was killed and five others wounded in one such attack on Sunday. The group did not officially claim responsibility for the assault.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team