Mortar fire hits Kabul causing panic at Afghan political rally

Mortar fire hits Kabul causing panic at Afghan political rally
A political rally by the Afghan Hezbe Wahdat party has come under fire by militants.
2 min read
07 March, 2019
Afghanistan's Hazara minority have been a frequent target of militants [Getty-file photo]
Mortar fire caused panic at an political rally in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday, in the latest militant attack to hit the war-torn country.

A video from the gathering, broadcast by TOLO News, depicts the sound of back-to-back explosions, causing terror among supporters of Hezbe Wahdat, an Afghan political party dominated by the country's persecuted Hazara Shia minority.

Journalists in Kabul reported the sound of 12 mortar explosions and gunfire close to the rally to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the death of Shia Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari.

"We have reports of explosions in the western part of Kabul. Investigations have been launched," Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman at the interior ministry, told Reuters.

The commemoration was attended by leading Afghan political figures, including chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai.

"Stay calm, the area of the blast is far from us," former lower house speaker Mohammad Younus Qanooni told attendees at the rally.

The sounds of explosions sparked screams with people running for the exit of the Musala-e-Mazari compound.

A senior official told Reuters that the Shia gathering could have been the target of the militants. It is not known how many casualties there were from the attack.

Afghanistan's Shia Hazara minority have been a frequent target of Sunni Islamist militants, including the Taliban and Islamic State group.

No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, although there have been almost daily bombings and shootings in Afghanistan in recent months.

Spring usually sees the start of a new offensive on the capital by Taliban militants, when the snow and ice in the mountains surrounding Kabul begin to subside.

Agencies contributed to this story.