Explosion at Gojar-e-Saeed Abad Mosque in Kunduz province during weekly Friday prayers
At least 100 people were killed or injured in an explosion targeting Shia Muslim worshipers at a mosque in northern Afghanistan on Friday, a Taliban police official said.
The officer, Dost Mohamed Obaidah, deputy police chief of Kunduz province, said “most of them have been killed.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in the city of Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but Islamic State militants have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minority.
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If confirmed, dozens of people would have died since US and NATO forces left Afghanistan in late August and the Taliban took control of the country. The Taliban have been targeted in a series of deadly IS attacks, including an ambush and an explosion at a mosque in the capital of Kabul.
The blast took place during the weekly Friday prayers at the Gujar-e-Syed Abad mosque. Friday afternoon prayer is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, and mosques are usually crowded. Witness Ali Raza said he was praying at the time of the blast and reported several casualties.
Photos and videos from the scene showed rescuers carrying a body wrapped in blankets from the mosque to an ambulance. The stairs to the entrance of the mosque were covered in blood.
Earlier on Friday, Taliban’s chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a Shia mosque was targeted and a large number of worshipers were killed and injured. He said Taliban special forces have reached the spot and are investigating the incident.
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The Taliban leadership is battling a threat associated with the local Islamic State, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan. IS militants have intensified attacks to target their rivals, including two deadly bombings in Kabul.
IS has also targeted Afghanistan’s religious minorities in attacks. A local Islamic State ally has also claimed responsibility for the horrific August 26 bombing that killed at least 169 Afghan and 13 US military personnel outside Kabul airport in the final days of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.