33 killed, over 40 injured as massive blast rocks Afghanistan mosque during Friday prayers

Image Source : AP

FILE – This frame grab image from video, shows a Taliban fighter standing guard outside the site of a bomb explosion inside a mosque, in Mazar-e-Sharif province, Afghanistan.

A massive blast rips through an Afghan mosque in northern Afghanistan killing at least 33 people, and injuring over 40. The incident took place in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, reported news agency AFP. As per reports, the blast took place during Friday prayers. Those deceased also include some students from a religious school, a Taliban spokesperson informed news agency AP.

Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted news of the devastating bombing in the town of Imam Saheb, in Kunduz Province, saying it also wounded another 43 people, many of them students.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate on Friday claimed a series of bombings that happened a day earlier, the worst of which was an attack on a Shiite mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif that killed at least 12 Shiite Muslim worshipers and wounded scores more. In a statement Friday, the IS-K said the explosive devise that devasted Mazar-e-Sharif’s Sai Doken mosque was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshipers. As they knelt in prayer, it exploded.

Earlier the Kunduz provincial police campus put the death toll at the mosque and madrassa compound in Imam Saheb at two dead and six injured. Mujahid later tweeted the higher casualty numbers tweeting “we condemn this crime . . . and express our deepest condolences to the victims.” Friday’s bombing is the latest in a series of deadly attacks across Afghanistan.

Since sweeping to power last August, the Taliban have been battling the upstart Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province or IS-K which is proving to be an intractable security challenge for Afghanistan’s religiously driven government. Last November the Taliban’s intelligence unit carried out sweeping attacks on suspected IS-K hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province.

“When the mosque was filled with prayers, the explosives were detonated remotely,” the IS statement said, claiming that 100 people were injured. The Taliban say they have arrested a former IS-K leader in northern Balkh province, of which Mazar-e-Sharif is the capital. Zabihullah Noorani, information and culture department chief in Balkh province, said Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was arrested in connection with Thursday’s mosque attack.

Earlier this month two bombs exploded in Kabul’s Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing at least seven students and wounding several others.

The IS-K also took responsibility for a brutal bombing outside the Kabul International Airport in August 2021 that killed more than 160 Afghans who had been pushing to enter the airport to flee the country. Thirteen US military personnel were also killed as they oversaw America’s final withdrawal and the end of its 20-year war in Afghanistan.

In recent months, the IS-K has also stepped up attacks in neighboring Pakistan, targeting a Shiite mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar in March. More than 65 worshipers were killed. The upstart affiliate has also claimed several deadly attacks against Pakistan’s military.

(With AP Inputs)

Also Read: Afghanistan: 10 killed, over 40 injured in blast at a mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif

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