Afghan Shiites bury dead after Kunduz blast

Kunduz (Afghanistan) (AFP) –


Mourners from Afghanistan's minority Shiite community buried their dead on Saturday after a suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State group killed more than 60 people.

A gravedigger in the Shiite cemetery overlooking the northern city of Kunduz told AFP they had handled 62 bodies, and reports suggested a final toll of up to 100.

The blast targeted Friday prayers in the packed Sayed Abad mosque in the city, in an apparent attempt to stir trouble between Shiites and Afghanistan's Sunni majority.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which the new Taliban security forces in Kunduz said was carried out by a suicide bomber.

The hardline Sunni movement has vowed to protect Shiites, who have faced persecution in Afghanistan in the past, but the community in Kunduz has been traumatised by the violence.

In the cemetery, Zemarai Mubarak Zada told AFP he had come to bury his 17-year-old nephew Milad, who had wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor.

A relative mourns during the funeral of a victim of the suicide bomb attack
A relative mourns during the funeral of a victim of the suicide bomb attack Hoshang Hashimi AFP

"He didn't talk much, but he was very calm," the 42-year-old said of Milad. "He used to make sure nobody was upset by what he said or did.

"We are really hurt by what happened. He wanted to get married. He wanted to go to university."

After an Islamic prayer was sung, men with shovels put back the earth over Milad's grave as a young boy wailed inconsolably. The heart-wrenching scene was repeated dozens of times.