Afghan mourners pack streets to bury murdered Hazara

Afghan mourners pack streets to bury murdered Hazara
2 min read
13 November, 2015
Afghanis poured onto the streets of Ghazni for the funerals of seven civilians, including a child, murdered by militants believed to be from the Islamic State group last week.
The seven Hazara Afghanis were beheaded by militants last week [AFP]

Thousands of people attended the burials of seven people from Afghanistan's Hazara Shia religious and ethnic minority in Ghazni on Friday.

The funerals come nearly a week after their decapitated bodies were found, with the gruesome discovery spurring massive protests, including in Kabul.

The remains of the four men, two women and one young girl - named as Shukria - were flown by Afghan military helicopters, after their coffins were paraded in Kabul during protests mid-week, to their home district of Jaghuri in central Ghazni province, a local tribal elder said.

"Around 5,000 people took part in the funeral ceremony under tight security," 45-year-old Jafar Haidary told AFP.

The coffins were covered in a green shroud, while most of the women were dressed in black according to Shia tradition, worker Zia Ahmady said, adding that nearby buildings were also "covered with black cloth".

The seven people from the mostly Shia Hazara ethnic minority were kidnapped from Jaghuri by unknown gunmen in October this year.

Their bodies were found last week in neighbouring Zabul province, which is under Taliban control and has been the scene of clashes between rival militant factions.

Officials have yet to confirm who is responsible for the killings - although police have accused the Islamic State group of being behind the murders. The group has seen growth in the country at the expense of the Taliban.

The macabre discovery galvanised protests in both Ghazni and Kabul to demand the government take action in the face of a recent wave of violence against the Hazara.

On Wednesday, thousands of people, mainly Hazara, poured into the rainy streets of Kabul to carry the coffins of the seven victims to the gates of the presidential palace.

The demonstrators chanted slogans against both the Taliban and the Islamic State group, while calling for both President Ashraf Ghani and the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, to resign.

The protest, unusual for Afghanistan in its scale and organisation, prompted Ghani to call for calm and vow to avenge the dead.

The three million-strong Afghan Hazara community has been persecuted for decades, with thousands killed in the late 1990s by al-Qaeda and the mainly Pashtun Sunni Taliban.

There has been a surge in violence against the mostly Shia Hazara this year, with a series of kidnappings and killings that has triggered a wave of fury on social media.