Afghan Shiites despair as they bury mosque attack dead

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Shuja kneels to mutter a prayer, his fingertips touching the small mound of earth now covering the body of his 12-year-old brother Shaia, killed by a suicide bomber.

Shaia had gone to pray on Friday at the Gozar-e-Sayed mosque in Kunduz, and was among scores of Shiite Muslims who died in the blast, including three other members of his family who now lay buried beside him.

“It’s so raw right now,” Shuja tells AFP, just after he has buried his young sibling. “Words cannot explain the emotions in my heart.”

Friday’s suicide bombing was the latest in a string of attacks on Afghanistan’s minority Shiite community — branded heretics by Sunni Muslim extremists like the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group, which claimed the attack.

“We have four martyrs from one family. Now every home has martyrs,” Shuja says, shaken with grief. “We cannot bear it anymore. We’ve been living for so many years with this misery.”

The 19-year-old had decided not to go to the mosque for Friday prayers, but rushed to the scene when he heard about the bombing, and fainted when he found his brother among the bloodied corpses.

“Some are totally lost, and they can’t be found. Some bodies are without heads or arms,” he said. “I wish that someday my country could be peaceful like other countries.”