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Gunmen Attack Shi'ite Shrine in Kabul, Killing 14 Worshippers


Afghan policemen stand guard near the site of an attack on a shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan October 11, 2016.

Gunmen, reportedly wearing Afghan police uniforms, stormed a packed shrine for Shi’ite Muslims in Kabul late Tuesday and opened fire, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 30 others.

Officials and witnesses said a suicide bomber blew himself up as the assault began in the Kart-e-Sakhi area of the capital city, while two others were shot and killed by security forces, ending an hours-long siege.

Health officials confirmed at least 16 women were among those wounded and taken to hospitals.

Tuesday was the ninth day of Moharram, the first month on the Muslim calendar.

Shi'ites around the world conduct processions and gather in large groups to mourn the killing of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad on the ninth and 10th of the month.

Security was particularly tight in Kabul for the annual Shi’ite religious rituals. Afghan authorities, fearing an attack, had requested the community not carry out large street processions but to gather inside their mosques or shrines.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly assault.

On Wednesday, the Shi’ite community will mark Ashura, the peak of Moharram. Attacks against Shi’ites are not uncommon in Afghanistan. Shi'ites comprise 15 percent of the country’s estimated 30 million people.

Militants, including the Taliban and Islamic State, consider Shi’ites apostates and are blamed for the sectarian violence.