Afghanistan is observing a national day of mourning after a twin suicide bombing at a protest march in the capital killed 80 people and wounded 230.
Thousands of members of the Hazara minority had taken to the streets of Kabul on Saturday in protest over a new power line, saying its route bypasses provinces where many of them live.
The attack targeting the protesters was quickly claimed by the ISIL, who have a history of targeting the Hazara people.
Funerals have begun in the west of the city, but some families are still searching for missing relatives in hospitals and morgues.
In a televised address, President Ashraf Ghani vowed to punish those responsible for the attack. “I will take revenge against the culprits,” he said, also declaring Sunday a day of national mourning.
One protester who is mourning the death of a friend killed in the blasts told Al Jazeera that they have “lost hope in the government” and will “not be able to recover from the shock”.
“We were peaceful protesters asking for our rights. Who did we harm? Why did I lose my friend? Did he deserve this?” he told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said it was one of the deadliest attacks in the capital in years. “The city of Kabul is totally in shock right now,” he said.
“In the past ISIL has carried out attacks in the eastern part of the country, mainly suicide attacks, but not as far as Kabul – they were limited to Nangarhar province along the border with Pakistan,” Azimy added.
“If it is true that ISIL is behind this attack, it shows the growing capability of the group.”
The Persian-speaking Hazara people, are estimated to make up about 9 percent of the population, and are Afghanistan‘s third-largest minority group. However, they have long suffered discrimination, and thousands were killed during the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
- Pray for Afghanistan as it mourns those killed in Saturday’s attacks. Pray for comfort for those who mourn, and for peace in their hearts and homes.
- Pray for wisdom for the government in dealing with these attacks, and for success in limiting ISIL’s influence in Afghanistan.
- Pray that the Hazari people will see an end to discrimination of their communities and see justice and fair treatment from the government.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to move over this troubled land, for peace on the streets, and for lives and communities to be transformed through life changing encounters with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 67 vs 1 – 2: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations“