KUNDUZ: An explosion ripped through a mosque during Friday prayers in northern Afghanistan, killing 33 people and wounding 43 more, a Taliban spokesman said, just a day after the Daesh group claimed responsibility for two separate deadly attacks.
Since Taliban fighters took control of Afghanistan last year after toppling the US-backed government, the amount of bombing has decreased, but Daesh has continued to attack targets it considers heretical.
A series of bomb attacks rocked the country this week, with deadly attacks on a school and a mosque in Shi’ite neighborhoods.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the children were among the 33 killed in Friday’s explosion at a mosque in the northern province of Kunduz.
“We condemn this crime […] and express our deepest condolences to the mourners,” he said, adding that 43 more were injured.
Images posted on social media, which could not be immediately verified, showed holes in the walls of the Mawlavi Sikandar mosque, popular with Sufis in the Imam Sahib district, north of the city of Kunduz.
“The sight in the mosque was horrible. Everyone who was praying inside the mosque was injured or killed,” said Mohammad Esah, a shopkeeper who helped transport the victims to the district hospital. AFP.
“I saw 20 to 30 bodies,” said another local resident.
Relatives of the victims came to the hospital to look for their loved ones.
“My son is martyred,” shouted a man, while a woman accompanied by her four children looked for her husband.
a nurse told him AFP by phone that between 30 and 40 people had been admitted for treatment of injuries from the explosion.
Kunduz police said they were investigating the type of explosion.
Multiple bomb blasts
Friday’s explosion was one of the biggest attacks since the Taliban seized power in August last year.
In October, a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque, also in Kunduz, killed at least 55 people and injured dozens, an attack also claimed by Daesh.
Daesh’s regional branch has repeatedly targeted Shiites and minorities such as Sufis in Afghanistan.
Daesh and the Taliban are bitter rivals.
The biggest ideological difference between the two is that the Taliban only wanted an Afghanistan free of foreign forces, while Daesh wants an Islamic caliphate stretching from Turkey to Pakistan and beyond.
Friday’s blast comes a day after Daesh claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif that killed at least 12 worshipers and wounded 58.
They also claimed a separate attack in the city of Kunduz on Thursday, which killed four people and wounded 18.
No group has yet claimed two blasts at a boys’ school in a Shiite neighborhood of Kabul on Tuesday, killing six people and wounding more than 25.
Shiite Afghans, who are mostly from the Hazara community, make up 10 to 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million.
Sufis, also a minority in Afghanistan’s Sunni majority, have faced several attacks in the past. In November 2018, a suicide attack on a wedding in Kabul killed dozens, most of them Sufis.
Earlier on Friday, Taliban authorities said they had arrested Daesh’s “mastermind” of Thursday’s bomb attack on the Mazar-i-Sharif mosque.
Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated Daesh, but analysts say the group is a key security challenge.