Three Afghans, three Spanish tourists killed in Bamyan shooting

Group of tourists and their companions was fired on while walking through a market in central Afghanistan.

The number of foreign tourists has increased 120 percent year on year in 2023, reaching nearly 5,200, according to official figures [File: Wakil Kohsar/AFP]Published On 18 May 202418 May 2024

Three Afghan nationals and three Spanish tourists were killed in central Afghanistan’s Bamyan province, the Taliban government has said, as it raised the death toll from the attack in a market.

On Saturday, the government said that the bodies of the three Afghans and three Spanish tourists were transported to the capital, Kabul.

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The group was fired on while walking through a bazaar in the mountainous city of Bamyan, about 180km (110 miles) from Kabul, on Friday.

“All dead bodies have been shifted to Kabul and are in the forensic department and the wounded are also in Kabul. Both dead and wounded include women,” Ministry of Interior Affairs spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani told the AFP news agency.

“Among the eight wounded, of whom four are foreigners, only one elderly foreign woman is not in a very stable situation.”

According to hospital sources in Bamyan, the wounded were from Norway, Australia, Lithuania and Spain.

Qani said that the fatalities included two Afghan civilians and one Taliban member.

A Taliban soldier stands guard in front of the ruins of a destroyed 1,500-year-old Buddha statue in Bamyan, Afghanistan [File: Ali Khara/Reuters]

“They were roaming in the bazaar when they were attacked,” he added.

Seven suspects were in custody and one of them was wounded, according to Qani, who said the investigation was continuing.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Spain’s government on Friday announced that three of the dead were Spanish tourists, adding that at least one other Spanish national was wounded.

“Overwhelmed by the news of the murder of Spanish tourists in Afghanistan,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on X.

The bodies would likely be brought back to Spain on Sunday, according to Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, who spoke on Spanish public television TVE.

He said one of the wounded had already undergone surgery in Kabul.

Afghanistan’s flailing tourism sector has seen the number of foreign tourists up 120 percent year on year in 2023, reaching nearly 5,200, according to official figures.

Bamyan is Afghanistan’s top tourist destination, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remains of two giant Buddha statues that the Taliban blew up during their previous rule of Afghanistan in 2001.

Since taking over the country again in 2021 after the withdrawal of United States-led forces, the Taliban have promised to restore security and encourage a small but growing number of tourists.

Friday’s attack was the deadliest since the Taliban took over three years ago.

The Spanish embassy was evacuated in 2021, along with other Western missions, after the Taliban took back control of Kabul.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies