Shafiqa’s 18-year-old son, Parwaiz Alim, left home on Thursday morning without telling his mother that he was heading to the Tebyan cultural centre in Kabul for an event condemning the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“I would have stopped him from going there if I knew,” Shafiqa told Al Jazeera. “I don’t care about condemning something that happened years ago; I don’t care, to hell with it. I want my son back.”
Parwaiz was among at least 40 victims of a suicide blast on Thursday that struck an area near a compound containing the Afghan Voice news agency, the Tebyan Shia cultural centre and a religious school.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Your son is one of the victims in the attack. Come to the hospital now,” Shafiqa recalled being told over the phone by her friend’s husband.
But Shafiqa, who also has two daughters, kept insisting that her only son must still be alive.
En route to the hospital, she said she expected to find Parwaiz among the injured. Instead, she found his burned body.
“My heart has been burning since then. Why my son? ISIL, I am asking you, why my son? Afghan government, I am asking you, why my son?” she said. “He never hurt anyone.”
Dozens of those killed in the attack were buried on Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.
ISIL said in a statement that the Tebyan centre was targeted because it received support from Iran.
While civilians comprise the majority of the group’s victims in Afghanistan, ISIL has condemned Afghan fighters who battle alongside Syrian government forces as part of the Iranian-backed Fatemiyoun division.
“It is important to understand that the violence is not part of any domestic Afghan sectarian conflict,” said Abubakar Siddique, a news editor for the RFE/RL Gandhara website, which covers Afghanistan and Pakistan extensively.
“ISIL does not have an Afghan agenda, but instead has a regional agenda to show strength of the group in countries across [the] Middle East and Asia,” he told Al Jazeera.
Several attacks in Kabul in 2017 points towards ISIL’s robust presence in the city, Siddique added, noting that the group is likely “attracting local recruits through indoctrination”.
The Afghan capital has come under attack several times in 2017.
On March 8, more than 30 people were killed when gunmen dressed in white lab coats stormed a hospital in the centre of the city. ISIL claimed responsibility for that attack, but officials believed other groups might have been responsible.
On May 31, a truck bomb exploded near the diplomatic district, killing more than 150 people. It remains unclear who was behind the assault.
On October 21, ISIL claimed responsibility for killing at least 39 people at a Shia mosque in Kabul.
Over the past two years, ISIL has claimed a growing number of attacks in certain areas of Afghanistan where its presence was previously rare. According to Siddique, its fighters are “sending a message to the Taliban that they are a more radical, brutal and capable force in Afghanistan”.