By Mohammad Yunus Yawar
KABUL (Reuters) -A bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday and at least 22 people were injured, hospital officials and witnesses said.
The blast occurred in a western district of the city where members of the minority Shi’ite Muslim community regularly meet.
Video footage posted online showed ambulances rushing to the scene, which is also near bus stations.
A spokesman for the Taliban interior ministry said an investigation team was at the blast site to help the wounded and assess casualties.
No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came ahead of Ashura, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, which is marked mainly by Shi’ite Muslims.
On Friday, at least eight people were killed and 18 injured in a blast in Kabul carried out by Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim militant group.
IS does not control any territory in Afghanistan but does have deadly sleeper cells that have been targeting religious minorities in the country as well as Taliban patrols.
Sunni Muslim Taliban authorities, who took over Afghanistan in August last year after a two-decade insurgency, have said they would provide more protection for Shi’ite mosques and other facilities.
Sayed Kazum Hojat, a Shi’ite religious scholar in Kabul, said the Taliban government had ramped up security ahead of Ashura but should improve vigilance for any threats.
No up-to-date census data exists, but estimates put the size of Afghanistan’s Shi’ite community at between 10-20% of the 39 million population, including Persian-speaking Tajiks and Pashtuns as well as Hazaras.
(Reporting by Kabul newsroom; editing by Jason Neely, Andrew Heavens and Mark Heinrich)