Three Spanish tourists and three Afghans were killed Friday in a shooting in the popular tourism destination of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, local and Spanish authorities said.

The bodies were transported to the capital along with multiple wounded, the Taliban government said Saturday.

The group were fired on while walking through a market in the mountainous city of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

Abdul Qani, a government spokesman, said the death toll had risen to six, including two Afghan civilians and one Taliban member.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry on Friday announced that three of the dead were Spanish tourists, adding that at least one other Spanish national was wounded.

According to preliminary information provided by hospital sources, the wounded were from Norway, Australia, Lithuania and Spain.

“They were roaming in the bazaar when they were attacked,” Qani added.

“Seven suspects have been arrested, of which one is wounded, the investigation is still ongoing and the Islamic Emirate is seriously looking into the matter.”

Fledgling tourism sector

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on X: “Overwhelmed by the news of the murder of Spanish tourists in Afghanistan.”

The European Union condemned the attack “in the strongest terms.”

The Taliban government, which took power in 2021 after a decade-long insurgency against foreign forces, has yet to be officially recognized by any government.

It has, however, supported a fledgling tourism sector, with more than 5,000 foreign tourists visiting Afghanistan in 2023, according to official figures.

Tourists holiday without consular support, after most embassies were evacuated, and many Western nations advise against all travel to the country, warning of kidnapping and attack risks.

Alongside security concerns, the country has limited road infrastructure and a dilapidated health service.

Bamiyan is Afghanistan’s top tourist destination. It is known for its turquoise lakes and striking mountains, and was once home to the giant Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban in 2001 during their previous rule.

The number of bombings and suicide attacks in Afghanistan has reduced dramatically since the Taliban authorities took power, and deadly attacks on foreigners are rare.

However, a number of armed groups, including the Islamic State group, remain a threat.

The jihadist group has waged a campaign of attacks on foreign interests in a bid to weaken the Taliban government, targeting Pakistan and Russian embassies as well as Chinese businessmen.

Flash Floods

This comes as flash flooding has killed at least 50 people in western Afghanistan, provincial police said Saturday, with some reaching safety on higher ground mere minutes before the water hit.

The floods on Friday also destroyed about 2,000 houses, and damaged thousands more homes and businesses, Ghor police spokesman Abdul Rahman Badri said in a statement.

With AFP