Kabul: The death toll from bombings in
Afghanistan last Tuesday targeting the Shiite Muslim holy day
of Ashura has reached 80, President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.
The attacks in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif as Shiites
gathered to mark the holiest day in their calendar raised
fears of sectarian violence ahead of the planned departure of
NATO combat troops in 2014.
"The Ashura incident happened at a time that the people of
Afghanistan were happy after a successful Bonn conference,"
Karzai told an anti-corruption conference in Kabul.
"Unfortunately the blast in Ashura martyred 80 people. The
death toll has reached 80.
"It was either hitting our happiness or a wider policy is
involved behind it."
Karzai on Wednesday blamed Pakistani extremists for the
unprecedented attack in Kabul, demanding justice from the
government in Islamabad.
By pointing the finger at the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militant
group, Karzai threatened to ratchet up tensions with
neighbouring Pakistan, which responded by calling for an end
to the "blame game".
Officials and experts fear that Tuesday`s attack may have
been designed to whip up sectarian conflict in Afghanistan,
which has not previously suffered the scale of such violence
experienced in Iraq and Pakistan.