(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday released a special report documenting a sharp increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, including attacks against Shia Muslim places of worship and congregations.
UNAMA report says civilian casualties from these types of attacks since January last year is higher than the total recorded between 2009 and 2015.
The report stated that since 1 January 2016, UNAMA has recorded 833 civilian casualties (261 killed and 572 injured) in 42 attacks targeting places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers.
It adds that civilian casualties from these types of attacks since the beginning of 2016 represent nearly double the cumulative total documented between 2009 and 2015.
“Respect the law, stop targeting worshippers and religious leaders,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, who is also the head of UNAMA.
Speaking on the eve of Arba’een commemorations - that take place at the end of the 40-day-period of mourning after Ashura - Yamamoto commended the recent efforts of Afghanistan to protect places of worship and urged them to take all necessary measures to protect all Afghans, especially those vulnerable to sectarian attacks, to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief and to worship in safety.
The report highlights a disturbing pattern of attacks by anti-government elements directed at civilians in places of worship, particularly those directed against Shia Muslims.
The report also documents the targeted killings by anti-government elements of religious scholars and leaders whom they regard as pro-government, as well as the targeted killing of security personnel amidst other worshippers inside mosques.
The report ends with a series of recommendations, including a call for anti-government elements to immediately cease targeting worshippers and religious leaders.