KABUL - Islamic State is threatening more attacks against Afghanistan's Hazara minority after Saturday's suicide blasts in Kabul that killed 80 people, pledging to retaliate against support by some in the mainly Shi'ite group for the Assad regime in Syria.
But assessing the threat from Daesh, as Islamic State is known in Afghanistan, is difficult. Some officials question whether an ultra-radical Sunni movement largely confined to an area near the border with Pakistan can sustain more attacks.
Omar Khorasani, a Daesh commander, said Saturday's bombing at a rally by thousands of Hazara protesting about the route of a new power line was in retaliation for the support offered by some Hazara to the regime in Syria.
Many Hazara have gone through Shi'ite-governed Iran to fight for the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a fellow Shi'ite, against Islamic State.
"Unless they stop going to Syria and stop being slaves of Iran, we will definitely continue such attacks," he told Reuters via telephone from an undisclosed location. "We can and we will strike them again," he added.
The government says it has been hitting Daesh hard even before Saturday's blasts in Kabul, one of the most deadly in the country since the start of the Taliban insurgency in 2001.
It said government forces had killed hundreds of insurgents in the past two months in assaults on Daesh strongholds in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which straddles the highway from Kabul to the Pakistani city of Peshawar.