Suicide attack in Afghanistan leaves 41 dead and more than 70 injured

A suicide attack left 41 people dead and 70 wounded in a bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in Kandahar city (Video: AFP)

At least 41 people died and some 70 were injured on Friday in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in the city of Kandahar, a stronghold of the Taliban, located in southern Afghanistan.

According to witnesses, several explosions shook the mosque of Fatemieh, in the center of Kandahar, the second largest city in the country, during Friday noon prayer, the day of rest of the week for Muslims, in which many people congregate to pray.

“We were preparing for prayer when we heard gunshots. Two people entered the mosque and shot the guards, who opened fire. One of them blew himself up. After him, two more were blown up, “Sayed Rohullah, a security guard at the mosque, told AFP.

The attack took place a week after another similar one against the faithful in the city of Kunduz, in the northeast of the country, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

In the case of the attack in Kandahar, the historic fiefdom of the Taliban, there was no immediate claim.

A local Taliban official confirmed to AFP that it was a “suicide attack”.

The head of the Taliban police in Kandahar, Maulvi Mehmood, condemned “strongly” the attack in a press conference and assured that “all security services” were “working to find those involved and punish them “.

According to him, the safety of the Shiite community was until now guaranteed by the community itself. But “in the future, we intend to take responsibility for all these places of worship by assigning guards to them,” he said.

“Too many corpses”

“According to information provided by our hospitals, 41 people died and about 70 were injured,” Hafiz Abdulhai Abbas, a health official in Kandahar, told AFP.

“We are overwhelmed. There are too many bodies and injured people. We urgently need blood.”

The interior and the entrance of the mosque, the floor was covered with rubble and some walls were perforated by the explosions, confirmed an AFP journalist.

Images released on social media, the authenticity of which could not be immediately verified, showed bodies lying on the ground.

Since coming to power on August 15, the Taliban have faced a wave of attacks by the Islamic State (IS).

Its local branch, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), has in recent weeks targeted the Taliban and the Afghan Shiite minority.

IS-K is a rival to the Islamist movement of the Taliban even though they are both Sunni. According to the UK-based conflict analysis company ExTrac, Friday’s would be the first IS-K attack in Kandahar.

The Taliban, who have their own history of persecuting the Shiites, returned to power in Afghanistan on August 15 and have made security their priority ever since, after twenty years of war.

Shiites represent between 10% and 20% of the Afghan population (40 million inhabitants in total). Many of them are Hazaras, an ethnic group that has been persecuted for decades in the country.

Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti tweeted: “We are saddened to learn that there was an explosion in a Shiite brotherhood mosque in the first district of Kandahar city in which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded.”

With information from AFP


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