3 Spaniards Were Among 6 People Killed When Gunmen Opened Fire In Central Afghanistan, Officials Say

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Three Spanish citizens and three Afghans were killed when gunmen opened fire in central Afghanistan, Taliban and Spanish officials said Saturday.

Officials had earlier said that four people died. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Friday evening attack.

Seven suspects were arrested at the scene in Bamiyan province, a major tourist area, and an investigation is underway, said Abdul Mateen Qani, a spokesman for the interior minister, on Saturday. He said seven other people were wounded.

Qani did not give the nationality of the foreign citizens, but the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that three Spaniards had died in the attack and that at least one more had been wounded. A Taliban official in Bamiyan who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said that the four wounded foreigners were from Spain, Norway, Australia and Latvia.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on social media platform X that he was “overwhelmed” by the news.

Qani said that all those who were wounded have been transferred to capital Kabul for treatment and they are stable condition.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that it was deeply shocked and appalled by the attack on civilians.

“We express our condolences to the victims of the attack, and are providing assistance following the incident,” UNAMA said on X.

Blame for the attack is likely to fall on the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, a major Taliban rival. IS militants have carried out scores of attacks on schools, hospitals, mosques and minority Shiite areas throughout the country.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.

In April The Associated Press visited the Taliban-run institute training tourism and hospitality professionals in Kabul.

The Taliban is seeking to increase the number of tourists coming to the country. In 2021, there were 691 foreign tourists; in 2022, that figure rose to 2,300; and last year, it topped 7,000.

Bamiyan is probably best known as the site of two massive Buddha statues that were carved into the cliff face between the 4th and 6th century and which were destroyed by the Taliban at al-Qaida’s urging in early 2001.