" --IANS/EFE"
Kabul, July 25 (IANS/EFE) Suspected Taliban insurgents Friday killed 15 Shia Muslims they found travelling aboard three buses in the central Afghan province of Ghor, the provincial governor said.

The incident took place shortly after dawn in the Lal-Sarjungal district, Sayed A. Rahmati told Tolo television.

The attackers stopped three buses and demanded identity documents from all the passengers. They then freed the Sunnis and executed the Shias, including three women and a child.

All of the dead were Hazaras, a Shia Muslim people of Central Asian origin who were persecuted under the Taliban government that fell during the US invasion of October 2001.

The Hazaras are roughly 9 percent of Afghanistan's total population and represent the bulk of the slightly less than 20 percent of Afghans who are adherents of Shia Islam.

While the Taliban and other radical Sunnis regard Shias as heretics, sectarian attacks are relatively rare in Afghanistan.

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan for the first six months of this year was 1,564, up 17 percent from the same period in 2013, while the number of civilians wounded rose 28 percent to 3,289.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is due to end its mission in Afghanistan at the end of this year, but Washington hopes to keep roughly 9,800 US military personnel in the country through December 2016.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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