IS Claims Bombing Targeting Shiites in North Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility on Friday for two bombings in the country's north that targeted the country's minority Hazara ethnic group a day earlier.

The car bombings Thursday in Mazar-e-Sharif killed at least nine people and wounded 13 others, according to local Taliban officials. The Hazaras are mostly Shiite Muslims, who IS consider heretics. An IS statement said 30 Shiites were killed or wounded in the two attacks.

Afghanistan's minority Shiite Muslims are reviled by Sunni radicals like IS, and have been targeted in a series of bombings in the past week. The IS affiliate known as IS in Khorasan Province, or IS-K, has attacked mosques, public buses, and schools.

The worst such bombing occurred last week, also in Mazar-e-Sharif, when a powerful bomb killed 33 worshippers as they knelt in prayer, as well as students of an adjacent religious school.

While criticism of the Taliban's hardline edicts have drawn widespread criticism, most international observers have noted increased security throughout the country since their sweep to power last August.

But the deadly IS-K is proving to be one of the Taliban's greatest challenges. Despite Taliban raids on IS-K strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, attacks continue at a steady pace.