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    Ashura attack aimed to foment sectarianism: Wolesi Jirga

    KABUL (PAN): Attack on the Abul Fazal Shrine in Kabul on Ashura Day was a conspiracy to stoke sectarian tensions in Afghanistan, public representatives said on Friday, urging the people to demonstrate strong unity against such plots.

    At least 60 people, including an American national, were killed and more than 193 others wounded late on Tuesday when a suicide bomber hit Shiite mourners at the shrine in the second police district of Kabul, where members of the Shiite sect were marking the martyrdom anniversary of Hazrat Imam Hussain.

    On the same day, four people were killed and 20 others wounded in another bomb explosion in Alokozay Square of Mazar-i-Sharif city in northern Balkh province. Five more people were wounded in a similar assault in southern Kandahar province.

    A Pakistan-based militant group -- Lashkar-i-Jhangavi -- claimed responsibility for the shrine suicide attack. President Hamid Karzai has promised to take up the issue with Pakistani leadership.

    The Wolesi Jirga Commission for Martyrs and Disabled Affairs condemned the bombing as an attack on Islam and humanity. By asserting responsibility for the deadly attack, the outlawed group had further stagmatised its history, a statement from the panel said.

    "In addition to criticising the Bonn Conference, the Pakistan interior minister thanked extremists for not attacking Shiite mourners in the country. Such acts prove the Kabul attack was carried out with support from the Pakistani government," the statement added.

    By trying to create divisions between the religious sects, the enemies of the country and Islam could drive the last nail in the Afghanistan's coffin, it warned. "The commission urges the people to foil enemy conspiracies..."

    The panel asked the Afghan government to approach the United Nations to pressure Pakistan into dragging the perpetrators to the international court, the statement concluded.

    On Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai visited those wounded in Tuesday's suicide attack, promising to take up the issue with Pakistan.

    A day later, a spokesman for the Foreign Office in Islamabad said: "We strongly condemn the reprehensible terrorist actions in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif resulting in the loss of over 60 innocent lives."

    It said Pakistan had banned all militant groups. The Afghan government should with Pakistan whatever evidence it had of Lashkar-i-Jhangavi's involvement, the foreign ministry added.

    myn/mud