ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION
A suicide bomber attacked a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in central Kabul on Tuesday (December 6) where a crowd of hundreds had gathered for the festival of Ashura, killing at least 30 people in what appeared to be an unprecedented sectarian attack.
The death toll is expected to rise, Kabul's Criminal Investigation Department said.
Afghanistan has a history of tension and violence between Sunnis and the Shi'ite minority, but since the fall of the Taliban the country had been spared the large scale sectarian attacks that have troubled neighbouring Pakistan.
The noon bomb in a riverside shrine, in the heart of old Kabul, appears to set a grim new precedent.
Shortly after, a bicycle bomb exploded near the main mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing four people and injuring 17 others.
In Kandahar, a bomb placed in a motorcycle exploded, injuring three civilians.
The Shi'ite Muslim festival of Ashura marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680.
Ashura is the biggest event in the Shi'ite Muslim calendar, when large processions are vulnerable to militant attacks, including suicide bombings.