Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai blamed Pakistani extremists on Wednesday for an unprecedented attack on Shiite Muslims in Kabul that killed 55 people, demanding justice from the government in Islamabad.
By pointing the finger at the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militant group, Karzai threatens to ratchet up tensions with neighbouring Pakistan just days after Islamabad boycotted the Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan.
Afghan officials fear that yesterday's killings in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif could unleash Iraq and Pakistan-style sectarian violence ahead of the scheduled departure of NATO combat troops in 2014.
Today, another 19 people died in a roadside bombing in the southern province of Helmand, bringing to 78 the number of people killed in just over 24 hours. Four people were killed near a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.
"We will pursue this issue with Pakistan and its government very seriously," said Karzai as he visited wounded survivors of the attack after cancelling a planned trip to Britain and rushing home from Germany.
There have been media reports of a purported claim from Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, which is linked to al Qaeda and blamed for killing thousands of Shiites in Pakistan but not thought previously to have attacked within Afghanistan.
"Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is based in Pakistan, therefore the government of Afghanistan with all its strength and international support will pursue this issue, Afghanistan cannot ignore the blood of its children," Karzai said.
First Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011, 21:16