Karzai Cuts Britain Trip Short After Deadly Attacks in Afghanistan

Posted December 7th, 2011 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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President Hamid Karzai has returned to Afghanistan, canceling a trip to Britain after a pair of bomb attacks in Afghanistan killed at least 59 people.

Mr. Karzai arrived Wednesday in the capital Kabul to visit with some of the more than 160 wounded in the blasts. He traveled home from Germany, where he attended an international conference on Afghanistan.

Mourners also gathered to bury the victims in Kabul, where on Tuesday at least one suicide bomber set off a blast

that killed 55 people, including one American. The blast happened near the Abul Fazel shrine as Shi'ite worshippers gathered on Ashura, the holiest day of the Shi'ite Muslim calendar.

A second explosion killed four people at a shrine in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, but it is not clear if Shi'ites were specifically targeted.

In a new attack Wednesday, officials say a roadside bomb hit a bus in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, killing at least 19 civilians. Five children were among the dead.

The Taliban denied involvement in Tuesday's attacks, calling them “cruel and indiscriminate” and blaming them on the “invading enemy.”

The Pakistan-based insurgent group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack.

The Sunni extremist group is an offshoot of the bigger Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is affiliated with al-Qaida and is responsible for a number of attacks against Shi'ites in Pakistan.

Mr. Karzai said the attacks Tuesday were the first of “that horrible nature” to take place on such an important religious day in Afghanistan.

Ashura marks the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.

U.S. President Barack Obama strongly condemned the violence, saying the United States continues to stand with the people of Afghanistan against terrorism.

Experts say the attacks, which came a day after the conference to discuss Afghanistan's future as international combat troops prepare to leave the country, underscores the importance of what was agreed in Bonn — that all countries in the region need to cooperate in securing long-term stability for Afghanistan.