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Gunman in Afghanistan target Shiites at shrine in Kabul

At least 14 people have died after a militant opened up fire on Shiite pilgrims at a shrine in the Afghan capital. Hundreds of Shiite Muslims gathered there ahead of Ashoura Day, the climax of a month of mourning.

A gunman wearing a military uniform attacked a Shiite shrine in Afghanistan's capital Kabul on Tuesday killing at least 14 people, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

The dead included 13 civilians and one policeman, ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. He added that 36 people were injured and that the "area has been cleared by police special forces." 

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The gunman was reportedly shot dead by police.

Security forces at the scene had evacuated the shrine, one of Kabul's largest, said Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Sakhi Shrine, where the attack took place, is located in the west of the Afghan capital, near Kabul University.

The attack occurred as potentially hundreds of Shiite Muslims had gathered ahead of the holy day Ashoura on Wednesday. It is the climax of a month of mourning for the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Iman Hussain, in 680 AD in modern-day Iraq.

Police in Kabul warned Shiites against mass gatherings as attacks had been anticipated. The commander of the Kabul carrison, Lt. General Gul Nabi Ahmadzia told The Associated Press on Monday that they received reports Ashoura activities would be targeted.

A suicide bomb attack in July on a public demonstration by Hazaras killed at least 80 people and wounded over 200.

In 2011, 54 people were killed when another suicide bomber detonated at another Kabul shrine where hundreds of people had gathered.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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