Category Archives: General

‘Misplaced a great sportsman’: Ecuador’s Olympic sprinter shot dead


Officers mourn Quinonez’s homicide which comes as violence spiked dramatically in Ecuador in latest months.

Ecuadorian Olympic sprinter Alex Quinonez has been shot useless within the port metropolis of Guayaquil.

Quinonez, 32, and one other particular person had been discovered useless near midnight (05:00 GMT) on Friday, based on police, with the killing sparking an outpouring of grief in a rustic struggling to include a surge in violence.

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso promised to carry his killers to justice.

“Those that take the lives of Ecuadoreans won’t stay unpunished. We are going to act with power,” Lasso tweeted.

“Nobody will relaxation till @PoliciaEcuador captures the culprits. We face a conflict towards drug gangs that intend to subdue us,” Pablo Arosemena, the governor of Guayas province, whose capital is Guayaquil, stated on Twitter.

The nation’s sports activities ministry confirmed Quinonez’s killing on Twitter, paying tribute to “the best sprinter this nation produced”.

“We’ve got misplaced a terrific sportsman, somebody who allowed us to dream, who moved us,” the ministry stated.

Jennifer Lugo, spouse of Quiñonez, is seen exterior the morgue in Guayaquil, Ecuador [Fernando Méndez / AFP]

Quinonez held Ecuador’s file for the 200m dash with a time of 19.87 seconds.

He was a finalist within the 2012 London Olympics, reaching seventh place after competing within the semis within the lane subsequent to Usain Bolt.

Quinonez received bronze within the 200m on the 2019 World Championships in Qatar.

Ecuador’s Olympic Committee stated Quinonez’s dying  “leaves us with profound ache” and that his “legacy will without end keep in our hearts”.

“I don’t have phrases to precise the unhappiness, helplessness and indignation that’s overwhelming me,” wrote Andrea Sotomayor, the secretary-general of the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee.

“Alex Quinonez was the synonym of humility and a transparent instance of resilience. His loss leaves us with ache in our chests.”

Relations carry the coffin of Ecuadorian athlete Quiñonez at a funeral dwelling in southern Guayaquil, Ecuador [Fernando Méndez / AFP]

A tribute on Sunday will see the athlete’s coffin positioned in a burning chapel in a soccer stadium within the city, stated the sports activities ministry.

Quinonez’s killing comes as violence has spiked dramatically in Ecuador in latest months.

Between January and October this 12 months, the nation registered virtually 1,900 homicides, in contrast with about 1,400 in all of 2020, based on the federal government.

President Lasso decreed a state of emergency all through the nation final week and is because of final 60 days with the navy to take to the streets to patrol and perform searches.

Quinonez was getting ready for coaching within the US with a view to his official return to the tracks and eventual participation within the World Athletics Championships in Oregon subsequent 12 months.

A severe contender for the rostrum on the Tokyo Olympics, Quinonez couldn’t compete resulting from a sanction from the Worldwide Athletics Federation for not appropriately reporting his whereabouts for out-of-competition anti-doping checks.

Neglect of Palestinians in Israel fuels killing spree

The deadly crime wave engulfing the Palestinian community in Israel must be urgently addressed after years of being ignored by Israeli authorities, analysts say.

Until now, the Israeli government has neglected the Palestinian sector and, for example, barely set up police stations in the predominantly Palestinian villages and towns. Financial bottlenecks in the police force were often cited as an excuse. Illegal weapons, gangs and an extremely high crime rate are the results.

The violence is an extremely severe problem, Ian Lustick, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, told Al Jazeera.

“Murder is rampant with systematic failures to investigate properly and extremely rare instances of arrests and convictions of perpetrators,” he said.

While Israel’s police solve 71 percent of murders in Jewish communities, only 23 percent are solved in Palestinian areas.

The Palestinian community, which makes up one-fifth of the total population, has fallen victim to a murder rate two times higher than Jewish Israelis face.

According to statistics, a 17 to 24-year-old Palestinian is 21 times more likely to be shot than a Jewish person in the same age group. For Palestinians aged above 25, the risk is 36 times higher than for Jewish Israelis.

Yaniv Voller, senior lecturer in the politics of the Middle East at the University of Kent, said the problem of violence in Palestinian society has been a long-term one that predated former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power.

“And all governments have ignored it, mainly because dealing with violence in Arab [Palestinian]  society has required great resources, but also posed another potential for clashes between the authorities and the Arab citizens,” Voller told Al Jazeera.

“Although Arab leaders have often called upon the government to tackle the issue, they have not been keen on cooperating with the authorities, especially the police.”

As a result, 2020 marked a record year with 96 Palestinian citizens of Israel killed.

However, 2021 has pulverised the previous benchmark already. About 100 Palestinians have been murdered since the beginning of the year, often as part of gang wars.

One of the problems is Israeli authorities viewing violence in the Palestinian sector as a security problem, one for the Shin Bet intelligence service, and not the police, Lustick said.

“Just as all public services are underprovided in the Arab sector – education, sewage, recreation, infrastructure, housing, etc – so has been policing,” he said.

However, the problem is not only one of a lack of resources and neglect, but “most fundamentally, the segregation of Israeli society and the exclusion of Arabs from the real concerns of most government bodies and most Israeli Jews”, Lustick noted.

“On top of that, but related to it, is the confiscation of enormous amounts of land from Palestinians and Palestinian villages and refusals to approve master plans for building. These circumstances produce severe overcrowding and very high stakes conflicts between families and clans over tiny bits of property.

“Add to that thousands of collaborators and informers, protected from prosecution, and the weapons they and contending gangs and clans can gain access to, and you have a recipe for the bloodshed we are witnessing,” he added.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said a new plan to combat crime in Palestinian communities is being put into effect.

“My government is determined to take action and wage an unceasing, constant and persistent fight, with full force, against crime and violence in the Arab sector,” Bennett said in a statement earlier this month.

Calls to involve Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet, which operates primarily in the West Bank, in addressing the problem “is probably not very helpful”, Voller warned.

“The most immediate solution is to funnel more money into crime-prevention programmes, strengthening the police and trying to collect arms, which are rife in Arab society. However, this programme cannot succeed in the long-term without building up trust between the authorities and the Arab society. No solution is possible without the cooperation with the population with the authorities, either in enforcement or education,” he said.

What could help is the new government in Israel having a shared interest in solving the issue.

“The coalition, on all of its components, is keen to solve the problem. This includes right-wing elements who understand that the violence in the Arab society does not remain confined to Arab villages and towns. The difference is mainly in the approach, with right-wing elements pushing for more use of law enforcement, including the Shabak and the police, at the expense of other measures,” Voller noted.

One of these coalition members is the United Arab List (Ra’am), which is committed to the rights of the Palestinian minority.

“Ra’am is the key to trying to solve the problem of criminal violence in Arab society. Through negotiations to join the coalition, it has earmarked budget and its leadership expresses vocal support for government intervention,” Voller noted.

However, Ra’am, on its own, cannot bring about a change, which requires greater collaboration with local Palestinian authorities, and many do not support Ra’am, said Voller.

What is also likely to be problematic is that the police, like the military, symbolise the Zionist state power, which many Palestinians do not want to identify with for political and ethnic reasons.

“The level of mutual trust is low at this moment. However, the fact is that Arab citizens and political leaders protest against the government inaction, which means that they still have some expectations and hope that the situation can change. It is here, in rebuilding trust, that Ra’am can come into the picture,” Voller said.

Minnesota’s governor calls up the National Guard to ease crowding in hospitals.

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota said on Friday that he would call upon the state’s National Guard to help ease staffing shortages that have kept hospitals from transferring Covid-19 patients for stepped-down care at long-term care facilities.

Mr. Walz called the transfers a “very typical thing in our medical system” and said they had been bottlenecked by capacity at those facilities. He said the National Guard will be given the training necessary to provide long-term care. He did not say how many soldiers will provide that relief, but said it will be “a fairly large contingent.”

The governor traveled to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, just outside Minneapolis, to announce the plan.

North Memorial’s chief executive, Dr. Kevin Croston, said his organization was struggling with staff shortages it did not have a year ago. “Our teams are now more stressed than they’ve ever been,” he said, adding that the “roller coaster” his employees are experiencing is happening all over Minnesota.

Last week, the state’s health commissioner, Jan Malcolm, said the staffing shortages among health care workers stemmed from “the extreme stress and burnout that they have faced for over 18 months now.”

The state is facing another surge of cases. Patients infected with coronavirus are nearing 1,000 in the state’s hospitals, according to state data. Cases in Minnesota are up 20 percent in the last two weeks, as are hospitalizations, according to a New York Times database.

Mr. Walz said that 400 of the patients currently hospitalized for Covid-19 should be transferred to lower-level care but beds at those facilities are not available — and those 400 hospital patients are taking up space needed for incoming patients.

LeadingAge Minnesota, the largest association of organizations caring for the state’s seniors, said in a statement that the governor’s plan will not solve the root causes of the staffing shortages. The trade group called on lawmakers to make immediate wage increases to support retention during a time when the industry is seeing record levels of burnout and turnover.

The state also announced that an emergency staffing pool would be reactivated, a measure used earlier in the pandemic.

State Representative Anne Neu Brindley, a Republican, issued a statement Friday saying Walz’s plan was “merely a band-aid that won’t outweigh destructive government policies,” according to the Star Tribune. She said policies like vaccine mandates are “driving health care worker resignations and layoffs.”

Andy Cochrane, chief hospital officer at North Memorial Health, said at the conference that 96 percent of intensive care patients at the system’s hospitals in Robbinsdale and Maple Grove who tested positive for coronavirus are unvaccinated.

Nearly 60 percent of Minnesotans are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database, and Mr. Walz is urging a push for more. “Don’t end up in the hospital if you can help it,” he said. “One of the ways you can do that is: Get vaccinated.”

UK PM Johnson visits scene where MP was fatally stabbed in terrorist incident

The murder has shocked the nation and prompted calls for a review of security measures for lawmakers carrying out constituency work.

Amess, 69 and a member of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, died after being stabbed several times at around midday Friday at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered, police said. He is believed to have acted alone.

“The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement overnight. Two addresses in the London area are being searched, the force said.

The man arrested is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage, official sources have told UK news agency PA Media. The UK’s Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the killing, police said Friday.

A somber-looking Johnson carried a wreath of pale roses Saturday morning to leave in front of the church where Amess was attacked.

He and Starmer were accompanied by Home Secretary Priti Patel, whose government department is responsible for policing and counter-terrorism efforts in the UK. Chief Constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington and Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle also carried flowers to the scene.

Speaking shortly afterward, Patel paid tribute to Amess as “a man of the people” and passionate advocate for the people he represented.

“He was killed doing a job that he loved, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member,” she said. “And of course, acts of this (kind) are absolutely wrong and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy.”

Patel said she had been in discussions with the Commons speaker, police and security services to “make sure measures are being put in place for the security of MPs, so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members.”

MPs in Britain typically meet with residents in their constituencies face to face during “surgeries,” and it is uncommon for them to have a security detail.

Measures to safeguard MPs are always being looked at and have been under review in the past 24 hours, Patel said.

She insisted that the democratic need for parliamentarians to be accessible to the people “can absolutely be balanced” with the need to ensure their safety, and that lawmakers “cannot be cowed by any individual” as they serve.

Veteran UK Labour lawmaker Harriet Harman called Saturday for a Speaker’s Conference in Parliament to discuss and review the safety of MPs.

“We cannot have the death of an MP being a price worth paying for our democracy,” Harman said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “I don’t think anybody wants to go to a situation where the police are vetting individual constituents who come and see us, but I’m sure there is a safer way to go about our business.”

‘Huge anxiety’ among lawmakers

This was the second murder of a sitting British lawmaker in five years, after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in her constituency in 2016 by a man with extreme right-wing views, and has reignited discussions about the safety of the UK’s elected officials.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who tried to save the life of a wounded police officer during a terror attack on Westminster in 2017, tweeted Saturday that MPs’ engagement with the public was a “vital part of our work” but that there was now, understandably, “huge anxiety” among his colleagues.

“Until the Home Secretary’s review of MP security is complete I would recommend a temporary PAUSE in face to face meetings,” he said.

Police officers from local forces will be contacting every UK lawmaker to discuss their security arrangements following Amess’ murder, a National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman told CNN on Saturday.

“They will also speak to MPs about security arrangements for any events they are planning to attend in the coming days, so the appropriate advice can be provided,” the spokesman said in a statement.

This will be done under Operation Bridger, a national police operation which provides advice to all Members of Parliament and their constituency teams on request.

“We encourage MPs to immediately report any security concerns to their local police force in order to keep themselves, their staff and members of the public attending surgeries safe,” the spokesman said.

Johnson: ‘We lost a fine public servant’

The country’s political, religious and societal leaders, and its royal family, all condemned Friday’s attack and paid tribute to Amess.

Those who knew him described Amess — who was married with five children — as a dedicated local representative, deeply embedded within his community and uninterested in the careerism of national politics.

Mosques in Southend-on-Sea, the larger resort town bordering Leigh-on-Sea, on Saturday condemned Amess’ killing as an “indefensible atrocity.”

“As members of Southend-on-Sea’s Muslim community, we mourn the brutal and senseless killing of Sir David Amess MP. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. We share their grief at his loss, for Sir David was not only our Member of Parliament, but an upstanding friend to our Muslim community,” a joint statement published Saturday on the Essex Jamme Masjid website reads.

A vigil was held Friday evening at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Leigh-on-Sea for local people to pay tribute to Amess.

“Everyone was just speechless. It was just awful. He was just such a kind, gentle soul, really witty, quite quirky and liked by a lot of people, and it was just shocking. Absolutely shocking,” local resident Melanie Harris told CNN.

Amess entered Parliament in 1983, initially representing the Basildon constituency, and had served continuously in the House of Commons since then, making him one of the longest-serving lawmakers in the chamber.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum spoke Friday of their sadness, concern, and anger that another of their colleagues was killed while meeting with constituents.

In a statement Friday from Downing Street, Johnson said the MP “was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”

“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future,” Johnson said. “We lost today a fine public servant.”

Starmer wrote on Twitter: “Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.”

Flags outside Parliament were lowered to half staff after Amess’ death.

Amess was knighted in 2015 for his political service. He supported Britain’s departure from the European Union, and his main areas of expertise were animal welfare and pro-life issues, according to a biography on his website.

He was not considered a controversial politician, and despite the length of his tenure, he was not a widely known political figure in the UK.

In a book he wrote last year about being an MP, Amess said Cox’s murder was “totally unexpected” and the event had changed the way MPs interact with members of the public, particularly in relation to constituency surgeries.

“These increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians,” he wrote. “I myself have over the years experienced nuisance from the odd member of the general public at my own property. We regularly check our locks.”

CNN’s Nada Bashir reported from Leigh-on-Sea and Sharon Braithwaite from London, while Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. CNN’s Nic Robertson and Rob Picheta contributed to this report.

Texas Republicans set to pass new congressional maps

Texas Republicans on Saturday were set to approve redrawn U.S. House maps that would shore up their eroding dominance as voters peel away from the GOP in the state’s booming suburbs.

After passage in the Texas House, the maps will go to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott who is expected to sign them into law.

The redrawn congressional districts map make it easier for incumbents to hold their seats and may blunt Black and Hispanic communities’ political influence, even as those voters drive Texas’ growth. The new lines, the product of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process, create two new districts and make several less competitive for Republican lawmakers. The proposal does not create any additional districts where Black or Hispanic voters make up a majority, even as people of color accounted for more than 9 of 10 new residents in Texas over the past decade.

Democrats and voting rights advocates are preparing to challenge the maps in court in what would be yet another high-profile, high-stakes legal battle over Texas politics — already the epicenter of disputes over abortion and voting rights.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat from San Antonio, said the maps were drawn to keep incumbent GOP lawmakers in power and “isolate communities of color” — who lean Democratic — in a way that limits their ability to determine the outcome of election. Gutierrez said he expects to see legal challenges alleging both racial discrimination and procedural missteps by the map’s authors.

Texas was the only state to gain two congressional seats following the 2020 census.

Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature have nearly complete control of the mapmaking process. They are working from maps that experts and courts have already declared as gerrymandered in their favor, and the state has had to defend their maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965.

But legal challenges face new hurdles this round — the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are approved. Plaintiffs must now wait to file claims and must show that maps were intentionally meant to discriminate by race. Drawing maps to engineer a political advantage is not unconstitutional.

Gutierrez contends a map drawn without taking race into account could yield as many as three new majority Hispanic districts and one new majority Black district.

“There you have clear evidence that what they have done is racially gerrymandered, so that they can dilute the vote, so that they can stay in power,” Gutierrez said.

Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who authored the maps and leads the Senate Redistricting Committee, told fellow lawmakers that they were “drawn blind to race.” She said her legal team ensured the proposal followed the Voting Rights Act.

The proposal would make 24 of the state’s 38 congressional districts safe Republican districts, with an opportunity to pick up at least one additional newly redrawn Democratic stronghold on the border with Mexico, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data from last year’s election collected by the Texas Legislative Council. Currently, Republicans hold 23 of the state’s 36 seats.

Republicans with newly fortified advantages include Rep. Van Taylor, whose district in Dallas’ exurbs went for President Donald Trump by a single percentage point last year. Under the new maps, Trump would have won the district by double-digits.

Rep. Michael McCaul, who Democrats aggressively targeted the last two cycles, would now represent a solidly pro-Trump district under lines that exclude Houston’s suburbs and liberal parts of Austin

And a long, vertically drawn district stretching from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio that President Joe Biden won by just over 2 percentage points would now slightly tilt toward Trump voters.

Democrats, meanwhile, protested new lines that remove some of their longtime residents even as their seats are protected. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who is serving her 14th term, would have her home drawn out of her Houston district as well as 200,000 of her former constituents. She could still run for reelection.

Texas lawmakers are also redrawing the maps for their own districts, with Republicans following a similar plan that would keep their party in power in the state House and Senate. Those proposals are also expected to be sent to Abbott by next week.

Jen Ramos, political associate for Jolt Initiative, an advocacy group that promotes Latino civic participation, said the new maps showed a dilution of power in majority Latino areas such as the Rio Grande Valley.

“Texas should look and sound like its elected officials and elected officials should not pick their constituents,” Ramos said. “Constituents should pick their representatives.”

Gina Castaneda, 66, drove from her home south of San Antonio to Austin early Wednesday to testify against the maps. Castaneda, who is Hispanic and politically conservative, said her neighborhood alone is split into three congressional districts.

“The way the census is going, and I have said this for many years, Hispanics are going to be the majority minority,” Castaneda said. “We need to make sure that the representation is there and we are able to fight the battle with our elected officials.”


Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.

ASEAN excludes Myanmar’s junta chief from upcoming regional summit

Issued on:

Myanmar’s junta chief will be excluded from an upcoming ASEAN summit, the group said Saturday, a rare rebuke as concerns rise over the military government’s commitment to defusing a bloody crisis.

Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed at an emergency meeting late Friday that a “non-political representative” for Myanmar would be invited to the October 26-28 summit, current ASEAN chair Brunei said in a statement.

The decision effectively excluded junta leader Min Aung Hlaing.

The Myanmar junta slammed the decision on Saturday evening, accusing ASEAN of breaching the bloc’s policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of its member states.

“We can also see the interference from the other (non-ASEAN) countries,” junta spokesman brigadier general Zaw Min Tun told the BBC Burmese section.

He seized on talks between the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and ASEAN special envoy, Brunei’s Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, ahead of the meeting and also singled out EU pressure.

The bloc, widely criticised as a toothless organisation, took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests that a special envoy meet with “with all stakeholders” in Myanmar — a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement noted “insufficient progress” in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to end turmoil following a coup in February.

It also said that the situation in Myanmar “was having an impact on regional security as well as the unity, credibility and centrality of ASEAN”.

Richard Horsey, Myanmar adviser to Crisis Group, predicted the “non-political” representative would be someone below the level of minister or deputy minister.

Singapore’s foreign ministry described the move as a “difficult but necessary decision to uphold ASEAN’s credibility”.

Mustafa Izzuddin, global affairs analyst at consultancy Solaris Strategies Singapore, called the exclusion “a political stopgap measure for ASEAN to assuage international criticism”.

It sent a “political signal” to the junta “that ASEAN is not one to be pushed around”, Izzuddin added.

And independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson said that “in ASEAN terms this is a real slap in the face”.

Thorn in ASEAN’s side

Myanmar, mostly ruled by the military since a 1962 coup, has been a thorn in ASEAN’s side since it joined in 1997.

Elections in 2015 overwhelmingly won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party ushered in the start of civilian rule — but this was cut short by the coup.

ASEAN has been under international pressure to address unrest that erupted after the putsch, including massive protests; renewed clashes between the military and ethnic rebel armies in border regions; and an economy spiralling into freefall.

The bloc has expressed disappointment at a lack of cooperation from the junta, which continues to crack down brutally on dissent. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed, according to a local monitoring group.

Part of the consensus was to allow a long-delayed visit by a special envoy, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Yusof.

ASEAN has insisted that he meets with all parties concerned, but the junta rejected any proposed meetings with people on trial, among them Suu Kyi, who is facing various charges.

A senior US administration official, commenting on media reports about the exclusion before the official statement was released, said “it seems perfectly appropriate and, in fact, completely justified… for ASEAN to downgrade Burma’s participation”, using Myanmar’s former name.

Member nations had already voiced their disappointment at the path the junta has chosen.

“If there is no real progress then Malaysia’s stance will remain: that we will not want the general to be attending the summit. No compromise on that,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Friday ahead of the meeting.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a tweet after the meeting that her country had proposed that Myanmar “should not be represented at the political level” at the summit until it restores “its democracy through an inclusive process”.

Aung Myo Min, the human rights minister of a shadow government of ousted Myanmar lawmakers called the NUG, praised the exclusion as “a very strong action” and voiced hope ASEAN would recognise the NUG as Myanmar’s legitimate government.

Political activist Minn Khant Kyaw Linn, 23, who organised a protest in Mandalay where the ASEAN flag was burnt in June, said it was time for the bloc to allow NUG representatives to its meetings.

The junta — officially known as the State Administration Council — has promised to hold elections and lift a state of emergency by August 2023.


Islamic State claims Afghanistan mosque bombing that killed 47 people

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that killed 47 people and wounded scores more. 

In a statement posted late Friday on social media, IS said two of the group’s members shot and killed security guards manning the entrance of the Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province. One detonated his explosives at the entrance of the mosque and the other inside.

IS’s news agency Amaq in a statement gave the names of the attackers as Anas al-Khurasani and Abu Ali al-Baluchi, both Afghan nationals.

People inspect the inside of a mosque following a suicide bombers attack in the city of Kandahar, southwest Afghanistan, October 15, 2021.

Sidiqullah Khan/AP

The attack came a week after a bombing claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan, raising fears that IS — an enemy of both the Taliban and the West — is expanding its foothold in Afghanistan.

Friday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the dramatic U.S. exit from the country, which allowed the Taliban to seize control of the Afghan capital. It was also the first major attack by the group in the country’s south.

IS carries out frequent attacks in its eastern stronghold, but recently has shown signs of expansion, with attacks in the north and Kabul. The attacks have brought into question the Taliban’s ability to counter the growing IS threat.

The Taliban have pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war and have also given the U.S. assurances that they will not allow the country to be used as a base for launching extremist attacks on other countries.