Blasts on vans carrying Shi'ite Muslims in northern Afghanistan kill nine

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KABUL (Reuters) -Bombs exploded aboard two passenger vans carrying Shi'ite Muslims in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, killing at least nine people, an official said.

The blasts follow an explosion at a Shi'ite mosque in the city last week, which killed 11, as Afghanistan grapples with a rise in attacks by Islamic State following the withdrawal of foreign forces last year. {nL2N2WJ0K1]

The group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack in a post on its Telegram account.

"The bombs were placed inside the vans; due to those blasts nine have been killed and 13 injured," Mohammad Asif Wazeri, spokesman of Mazar-e-Sharif's commander told Reuters.

The public transport vans were operated and used by the local Shi'ite community, he added.

Shi'ite community, a minority Muslim sect in Afghanistan, is frequently attacked by Sunni militant groups, including Islamic State.

Taliban authorities who took over after the Western pullout said earlier this week they had eliminated most of Islamic State's presence in Afghanistan. But despite the assertion, attacks against Shi'ites continue in many parts of the country.

Last week, blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shi'ite Hazara area in western Kabul, killing at least six.

(Reporting by Kabul newsroom; Writing by Gibran Peshimam, Editing by William Maclean and Jacqueline Wong)

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