When the Afghan female robotics team, made up of teenage students from the western city of Herat, finally made it to a global competition in the United States, the cameras were focused on them. Here was a glimmer of hope from a place so often associated with bloodshed. The girls had made it against all odds, including being denied visas twice.
With a big smile, Fatemah Qaderyan, 14, the team captain, illustrated just how far girls, even from a challenging place like Afghanistan, could go if given the opportunity. Crucial to that, she repeated, was the support of her parents.
On Tuesday night, Fatemah’s father, Mohammed Asef Qaderyan, 54, was killed when suicide bombers targeted hundreds of worshipers at a mosque near their home in Herat.
Roya Mahboob, an Afghan technology entrepreneur who helped arrange the team’s trip to the United States, confirmed the news of the death. Jailani Farhad, a spokesman for the governor of Herat, also said that Mr. Qaderyan had been among those killed.
The assault, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, was the deadliest in a string of attacks this year against Shiite places of worship. It left at least 37 people dead and more than 60 others wounded. The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said this was the fifth attack targeting a Shiite mosque this year, with two of those claimed by the regional branch of the Islamic State.
Most of the dead were buried on Wednesday at Ziarat Sultan Agha cemetery. Rows of graves had been dug in the morning. Thousands of mourners, grieving aloud and chanting prayers, accompanied the coffins of the victims, who ranged from a 3-year-old child who had accompanied his father to prayer, to a man in his 70s.
“We never had such a big crowd for funerals — people came from all ethnic groups and religious sects,” said Qudos Yassenzada, a local elder who was part of the committee that helped arrange the burials.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Mujib Mashal and Jawad Sukhanyar