Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr as graveyard blast kills 14 in Afghanistan

An explosion killed at least 10 women in a graveyard in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said, as the country celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Kabul: Muslims across Asia celebrated Eid al-Fitr Thursday with lavish feasts and religious services but festivities in Afghanistan were marred by an explosion at a graveyard that killed 14 women and children.

The attack, which occurred in eastern Nangahar province, came as a group of women and youngsters gathered to commemorate the late wife of a pro-government tribal leader as part of their Eid prayers.

Earlier, President Hamid Karzai appealed to the Taliban to resist being controlled by foreigners and said the militants should support their own country.

"You are working for others, (foreign) guns are put on your shoulders, and innocent Afghan people are being killed by it, homes are destroyed," he said. "Give up on it, be Afghan."

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia was among the first countries in the Islamic world to kick off Eid celebrations, but fears of fresh attacks at Buddhist sites prompted a security clampdown days after a temple bombing.

While most Indonesians were celebrating, it was an anxious time for the country`s minority Buddhists after an attack on a temple in Jakarta on Sunday.

One person was injured when a small bomb exploded at the Ekayana temple as hundreds were praying, an attack motivated by anger at the plight of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

"Buddhist temples are one of the key locations we are securing," national police spokesman Ronny Sompie told AFP.

Malaysia`s Islamic authorities called for Muslims to strengthen the unity of the nation in the aftermath of controversial elections in May that saw the Muslim Malay ruling party retain its grip on power.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to host up to 80,000 guests as he opens his home to celebrate the end of the fasting month.

Muslims in Australia were among those to celebrate Eid today, along with Malaysia and the Philippines, with Gulf states expected to follow. Pakistan, Hong Kong and North African nations are expected to start festivities tomorrow.

Leaders of Australia`s ruling Labor Party including foreign minister Bob Carr and members of the opposition addressed worshippers outside Sydney`s Lakemba mosque, rallying support ahead of national polls on September 7.

In Beijing, Chinese Hui Muslims exchanged sweets and received blessings at the city`s historic Nijuie Mosque, built in the 10th century.

Many of China`s estimated 40 million Muslims live in the country`s eastern regions of Ningxia and Xinjiang, which last month saw its worst ethnic violence in recent years that left at least 35 people dead.


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