Afghanistan Breaking News: Six people, a woman and a child of Hazara Shia community among them, were killed and at least 24 others injured in a suicide attack here on Saturday night.
It was the second bomb attack to have hit the city in hours. Earlier in the morning, a pick-up bomb blast on Spiny Road, apparently aimed at a police vehicle, left seven people wounded.
“It was a suicide attack,” IGP Balochistan Muhammad Amlish said about Saturday night’s incident, adding the suicide attacker blew himself up in Aliabad area of Hazara Town.
Sources said there was tight security in and around Hazara Town. Yet the suicide attacker managed to enter the Aliabad area and detonated his explosive vest at a square of the main market.
The powerful blast killed three people on the spot and injured over two dozen others. The dead and the injured were taken to the Bolan Medical College (BMC) Hospital and Combined Military Hospital (CMH). Two of the injured died in the hospital.
“Six people have been killed and 27 others, including six children, were injured in the suicide attack,” Capital City Police Officer Abdul Razzaq Cheema said, adding that the dead included one woman who succumbed to her injuries at the CMH.
However, a leader of the Hazara Democratic Party, Bostan Ali, said that two women had been killed in the attack. A child also succumbed to his injuries at the CMH late in the night, he added.
Sources said a large number of people were busy in Eid shopping in Aliabad when the suicide attack took place.
“Hundreds of people, among them women and children, were present in the shopping centre when the suicide bomber blew himself up,” police sources said.
Law-enforcement agencies personnel cordoned off the area after the explosion and started investigation. It was the fourth suicide blast to have hit Hazara Town over the past two years.
The head of the attacker was recovered from a nearby girls’ school and other body parts were found at the place of the attack. Police shifted them to the hospital.
The blast was so powerful that it was heard in the entire city, creating panic among citizens. Shops were closed.
Shia organisations and the Hazara Democratic Party condemned the attack and announced seven days of mourning.
The blast that occurred at Spiny Road in the morning left seven people injured.
“A Suzuki pick-up was used for the blast,” police said, adding that a police officer was passing through the area when the vehicle carrying the explosives was detonated.
Explosives were concealed under apple crates loaded in the pick-up and the vehicle was parked on the roadside. It was a remote-controlled blast and around 30-40kgs of explosive substance packed with ball bearings and metal pieces were used, they said.
DSP Mohammad Naeem and his guards escaped unhurt in the blast which badly damaged his vehicle.
Seven people, who were injured in the blast, were admitted to the BMC hospital.
A spokesman for the banned Baloch United Army, Mureed Baloch, calling from an unknown location, told mediapersons that his group was responsible for the bomb blast.
However, no one claimed responsibility for the suicide attack till late night.
Reuters adds: Last year, members of Quetta’s Hazara Shia community staged a sit-in in protest at their lack of protection, refusing to bury the bodies of people killed in a bomb blast in a Shia commercial area of the city.
The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group has carried out many gun-and-bomb attacks on Hazaras in the past.
In one post from last December seen by the Guardian Cerantonio called for assassinations and war against the US. “If we see that Muslims are being killed by the tyrant leaders of the USA then we must first stop them with our hands (ie by force). This means that we should stop them by fighting them, by assassinating their oppressive leaders, by weakening their offensive capabilities etc … This is not something that is beyond us at all,” he wrote.
Referencing the work of terrorist cells, he said: “A small group of believers was able to bomb their warship (the USS Cole), destroy their embassies, attack their military and financial headquarters, they were able to fight their soldiers and to significantly weaken them and bring them closer to defeat … What then if the entire Ummah [Muslim community] stood up to do so?!”
Though sporadically critical of them, Cerantonio describes the Isis group, which is closely affiliated to al-Qaida, “as the best forces on the ground in Syria”.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) said they were aware of Cerantonio’s Facebook page but would not confirm whether they were investigating him or not.
Speaking about Cerantonio, the AFP added that they continue to “assess material placed on social media that may be in breach of Commonwealth laws”.
An AFP spokeswoman said: “The AFP would like to remind the community that it is an offence to travel to a foreign state with the intent of engaging in hostile activity, or to provide financial support to individuals or groups involved in either side of a foreign conflict.”
Michigan-born Jibril, 42, is a convicted fraudster who spent eight years in a high security US prison and has previous associations with radical preaching. When he was sentenced in 2005, the FBI said in court documents that he was running a radical Salafi website, which carried “a library of fanatically anti-American sermons by militant Islamic clerics”.
Though he does not openly incite his followers to violence, Jibril, the King’s College report says, started tweeting support for the Syrian rebels 13 days after he was released from prison.
In one Youtube sermon he says: “When your brothers in Syria speak, everyone today needs to shut their mouth and listen, because they’re proving themselves to be real men.”
He is popular on Facebook, where his personal page boasts more than 145,000 subscribers to his posts.
The study says Jibril is now the most “liked” personality on Facebook among the foreign fighters they tracked and is followed by 60% of foreign jihadists in Syria on Twitter.
Within hours of the death in Syria last December of Ifthekar Jaman, from Portsmouth, Jibril sent a message of condolence via a series of direct messages on Twitter to a member of his family.
Uploaded to the family member’s public timeline, the messages read: “I didn’t know him [Ifthekar] but when I read of him today it made me weep, may Allah be with you and may Allah grant him ferdous [the highest level of paradise]!
“Give my salam, love and respect to all the family. If I was there it would be a great honor to visit you all.” The message was retweeted 97 times and favourited 141 times.
A second tweet of Jibril’s in February praised another dead British Syrian jihadist known as Abu Layth.
Jibril described the 20-year-old Manchester man, Anil Khalil Raoudi, as a “great brother” and also wished him entry into paradise. According to the academics’ report, the two clerics complement rather than compete with each other. When asked by the Guardian if he incited others to violence and possible acts of terrorism Cerantonio replied: “I do not doubt that I have called upon all believers, whether young or old, to respond to the commands of God.”
In answers to questions for Afghanistan news online Cerantonio said: “Our aim must be to unite the ranks of all Muslims … as one nation under the leadership of a Khalifah [spiritual and political head] who rules by Allah’s Law.”
Jibril did not respond to questions put by the Guardian or requests for an interview.
Shiraz Maher, of the ICSR, said the report represented the first empirical analysis of “what’s important for foreign fighters” in the Syrian context. Cerantonio and Jibril represented a new breed of “virtual” preachers, he said. “We never intended to write the report in the way it was written, we just crunched the numbers and these two came out top and the evidence suggests that these two people are very important to people in their 20s who are invested and interested in the Syrian conflict.
“Neither of them has a mosque or a traditional constituency in the way that a radical preacher like Abu Hamza used to have who still had a base to operate from.
“These guys have become totally borderless, virtual clerics who operate solely more or less through the internet and on popular media, Youtube, and in the case of Cerantonio, through international TV stations as well.”
Additional reporting by Jonathan Robinson