ISLAMABAD — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on foreigners in central Afghanistan last week in which three Spanish citizens and three Afghans were killed.

Seven people were wounded in the attack on Friday in on Bamiyan province, a major tourist area, according to Abdul Mateen Qani, a spokesman for the interior minister. He said seven suspects were arrested at the scene.

The Islamic State group issued statements on its Aamaq news agency late Sunday that said IS fighters attacked a bus carrying tourists and their guides. “The attack was in response to the IS leaders’ directions to target citizens of the European Union wherever they are found,” it said.

Spain's Foreign Ministry said three Spaniards died and 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 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 of Kabul for treatment and they are stable condition.

The Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan is a major Taliban rival and its militants have attacked 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.

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 was the site of two massive Buddha statues carved into a cliff between the 4th and 6th century and which were destroyed by the Taliban at al-Qaida’s urging in early 2001.

Separately on Monday, a hand grenade exploded in the southern city of Kandahar, killing at least one civilian and wounding three, the Kandahar police chief's office said.

Police were investigating the explosion near the road toward Kandahar airport, the statement said. No group has taken responsibility for the blast.

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