The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] reported [text, PDF] Wednesday that attacks against places of worship and religious leaders have seen a “disturbing” increase in Afghanistan since January 1, 2016.
The attacks typically target Shi’a Muslim congregations, and almost all attacks are carried out by anti-government elements. Since January 1, 2016, 273 people have been killed, and 577 have been injured in these attacks. These casualties are almost twice the number seen in similar attacks between 2009 and 2015.
In 2016 there were four documented attacks on Shi’a worshippers. In 2017 there have been eight attacks against Shi’a worshipers. ISKP—formed by former Taliban commanders who wanted to have closer ties with the Islamic State—has claimed responsibility for eight of those attacks.
There have also been 27 incidents in which religious figure were specifically targeted since January 1, 2016. Eight additional religious leaders and scholars have been abducted during that time.
UNAMA called upon anti-government elements to immediately stop these attacks and commended the Afghan government for steps it has taken to protect places of worship. UNAMA also called upon the Afghan government to take further actions to protect people and places of worship.
Violence in Afghanistan has been an on going humanitarian crisis for many years. Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor [Official website] announced [JURIST report] that her office has started potential war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan from July 2002.