December 6th, 2011
07:28 AM ET

At least 58 dead from dual blasts in Afghanistan

[Updated at 7:29 a.m. ET] At least 58 people are dead after explosions hit the Afghan cities of Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif on Tuesday, the Shiite holy day of Ashura, officials said.

One attack occurred when a suicide bomber detonated a device at a Shiite shrine in Kabul, killing 54 people, Afghan Health Ministry spokesman Kargar Norughli said. Another 150 were injured.

Another four people were killed by another explosion in Mazar-e Sharif, the provincial capital of Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, police official Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai said. Another 21 were injured in that attack.

"The enemies tried to spread fear in this important holiday in the city," Ahmadzai said.

Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Hussein was killed in battle in Karbala, Iraq in 680, one of the events that helped create the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, the two main Muslim religious movements. Shiites are a minority presence in Afghanistan, which is predominantly Sunni.

The attacks came a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that the Taliban could make a comeback as the country struggles with security a decade after a U.S.-led coalition ousted the hardline militia from power.

"If we lose this fight, we are threatened with a return to a situation like that before September 11, 2001," Karazai told an international aid conference in Bonn, Germany.

Karzai said that though there had been progress over the past 10 years, stability remains a distant goal.