Afghans protest against savage killings of minority

Protesters, with photos of one of the victims, shouting slogans against the Taleban and ISIS on Thursday. The three million-strong Afghan Hazara community has been persecuted for decades, with thousands killed in the 1990s by Al-Qaeda and the Pashtun
Protesters, with photos of one of the victims, shouting slogans against the Taleban and ISIS on Thursday. The three million-strong Afghan Hazara community has been persecuted for decades, with thousands killed in the 1990s by Al-Qaeda and the Pashtun Sunni Taleban.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

KABUL • Thousands of people attended the burials of seven Shi'ite Hazaras in Afghanistan yesterday, witnesses said, nearly a week after their decapitated bodies were found, with the gruesome discovery spurring massive protests, including in Kabul.

The coffins of the four men, two women and one young girl - named as Shukria - were flown by Afghan military helicopters from Kabul 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," elder Jafar Haidary told AFP. The coffins were covered in a green shroud, while most of the women were dressed in black according to Shi'ite tradition, worker Zia Ahmady said, adding that nearby buildings were also "covered with black cloth".

The seven people, from the mostly Shi'ite Hazara ethnic minority, were kidnapped from Jaghuri by unknown gunmen last month.

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

Officials have yet to confirm who is responsible for the killings. The macabre discovery galvanised protests in both Ghazni and Kabul to demand the government to take action in the face of a recent wave of violence against the Hazara.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'Afghans protest against savage killings of minority'. Print Edition | Subscribe