Twin blasts kill at least 9 in northern Afghanistan

The victims of the attack were travelling home to break their dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast.

Two explosions, within minutes of each other, killed at least nine people and wounded 13 in northern Afghanistan.

The blasts on Thursday targeted two separate vehicles in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. The victims of the attack were travelling home to break their dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast, said Mohammad Asif Waziri, a spokesman for a Taliban-appointed police chief.

“The targets appear to be Shia passengers,” Waziri said.

“The enemies of Afghanistan are creating tension and division among our people.”

The source of the blasts was not immediately clear and no one has yet claimed responsibility.

Taliban security cordoned off the area and residents said members of the Shia minority Hazara ethnic group appeared to be the target of the attack.

[embedded content]

The attack is the latest in a series of deadly bombings to shake Afghanistan and comes just days after a deadly bomb blast at a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif that killed at least 12 worshippers and wounded scores more.

A separate bomb attack at another mosque in the northern city of Kunduz last week targeted the minority Sufi community and killed at least 36 people at Friday prayers.

In another attack, also targeting Shias, two bombs detonated at a school in Kabul, killing six students.

The ISIL (ISIS) group claimed the mosque attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, but no group has so far taken responsibility for the bombing in Kunduz. The regional branch of ISIL in Sunni-majority Afghanistan has repeatedly targeted Shias and minorities such as Sufis.

ISIL is a Sunni group, like the Taliban, but the two are bitter rivals. Their biggest ideological difference is that the Taliban sought only an Afghanistan free of foreign forces, whereas ISIL wants a so-called caliphate stretching from Turkey to Pakistan and beyond.

Shia Afghans, who are mostly from the Hazara community, make up between 10 and 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated ISIL, but analysts say the armed group is a key security challenge.