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 An Ariana Media Publication 08/26/2016
 Afghanistan says Pakistan was involved in sectarian attack


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KABUL - The Afghan government on Tuesday accused neighbouring Pakistan of involvement in a bloody attack last year on minority Shi'ite Muslims, one of the worst sectarian killings in Afghanistan for years.

The December 6 attack, in which a suicide bomber blew himself up among hundreds of Shi'ites marking the Ashura rite on a Kabul street, killed dozens of people, including women and children.

The attack, timed with a series of bombings elsewhere in Afghanistan, raised fears the country could join Iraq and Pakistan in suffering regular violence motivated by tensions between religious sects.

In a news conference, Afghan Attorney General Mohammad Esaaq Alako said two Afghans had been detained for helping transport militants involved in the attack from the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

He said the two men were paid 10,000 Pakistani rupeeseach for the job, but did not say specifically by whom.

"Let me be clear, it was started from Peshawar and this (attack) was administrated by our neighbour's intelligence organs," Alako told reporters.

He did not provide specific information on why the Afghan government believed Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the ISI, was involved. Afghanistan has repeatedly accused the ISI of backing militant attacks, a charge Islamabad strongly denies.

Lutfullah Mashal, chief spokesman for Afghanistan's intelligence agency, said that the plan to attack the Shi'ites in Kabul "was hatched in Peshawar."

The Taliban, which has vowed to press on with its long insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its Western backers, condemned the attack when it occurred, and denied involvement.

Ashura, which features large processions or pilgrimages that are vulnerable to militant attacks, is a major event in the Shi'ite Muslim calendar. Most of Afghanistan's Muslims are Sunnis.

(Reporting Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Missy Ryan and Daniel Magnowski)

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