On Tuesday, Dec. 6., rare sectarian attacks in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif killed at least 58 people, stunning Muslim celebrants of the Shiite religious festival of Ashura. Most of the casualties came from a suicide bomb detonated at a shrine in the Afghan capital, where 54 people have been reported killed thus far. A third attack was attempted in Kandahar but resulted in no fatalities. Responsibility was not immediately claimed for the attacks.
The apparently sectarian nature of the attacks was new for Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai, in Berlin for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called the explosions, "the first time that on such an important religious day in Afghanistan, terrorism of that horrible nature is taking place."