Isis claims responsibility for attack that killed three Spanish tourists in Afghanistan

Isis claims responsibility for attack that killed three Spanish tourists in Afghanistan

Isis has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed three foreigners visiting Afghanistan, saying they deliberately targeted the Europeans.

Gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying foreign tourists and their guides in central Afghanistan’s Bamyan province on Friday, killing three Spaniards and three Afghans and wounding seven people.

“The attack was in response to the IS [Islamic State] leaders’ directions to target citizens of the European Union wherever they are found,” a statement published on Aamaq, an Isis-run news portal, said on Sunday.

It added that "fighters shot at Christian tourists and their Shiite companions with machine guns".

The casualties were confirmed by a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Taliban-run interior ministry, Abdul Mateen Qani, who said four of the injured people were foreigners from Spain, Norway, Australia and Latvia.

Mr Qani added that the Taliban’s police arrested at least seven suspects from the scene of the attack, which took place at a busy marketplace about 110 miles from the capital Kabul.

The injured were transferred to Kabul for treatment and are in a stable condition.

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he was “overwhelmed” by news of the killing of three of his countrymen in Afghanistan.

Jose Manuel Albares, the country’s foreign minister, said he would "work to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished”.

"The two unharmed Spaniards are now out of Afghanistan. The operation to repatriate the rest of the Spanish victims is still underway," he said in a statement on X. Spain does not have a functional embassy in Afghanistan.

Since returning to power in August 2021 after overthrowing the Western-backed government in Kabul, the Taliban has been fighting nearly 20 small and big terrorist groups, mostly aligned with Isis, that have threatened the stability of the Islamist group’s administration.

While Isis and its offshoots have carried out smaller attacks on foreign nationals, including diplomats and businessmen from China in Afghanistan, last week’s was the first deadly attack on foreign tourists.

The Taliban’s de facto government has been making attempts to encourage more foreigners to visit the country. Afghanistan received just 691 foreign tourists in 2021 but that number rose to 2,300 in 2022 and to 7,000 last year.