At Least Two Dead, Four Wounded in Explosion Outside a Mosque in Kabul

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No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attacks were similar to those carried out by Islamic State, which seeks to undermine the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

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An explosion outside a mosque in the center of Kabul killed at least two people on Sunday, a Taliban spokesman said, underscoring the challenge for the country’s new rulers to maintain security after decades of war.

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Qari Saeed Khosti, spokesman for the minister of internal affairs, said the blast occurred during a funeral for the mother of a high-ranking Taliban official outside the Idgah mosque in central Kabul. At least four people were also injured in the attack.

“I heard a huge explosion,” said Hasibullah, 45, a resident of Kabul, who was going to collect groceries near the mosque on Sunday. “Everyone was in a panic.” The pavement outside the mosque had already been cleaned with the blood of the victims.

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No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but it follows a trend of similar attacks carried out by an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan. The militant group has intensified its campaign of violence in the weeks following the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan and the toppling of the Western-backed government.

The Taliban’s weak support in the capital is based on a promise to provide security after four decades of war and violence. That protection is supported by the enforcement of strict religious laws, including public executions and amputations for petty crimes.

But since the group’s return to power, it has been forced to defend itself from attacks by Islamic State and resistance forces. Now the Taliban finds itself in a position similar to the government it displaced: trying to stop insurgent attacks on its fighters and infrastructure.

Sunday was the first blast at a mosque in Kabul since the Taliban captured the capital in August. It was the deadliest since an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US service members and nearly 200 Afghan civilians during the evacuation of Kabul’s international airport that month.

Taliban fighters on Sunday evacuated people from around the Idgah mosque, a place of worship popular among Taliban officials. The city of more than five million is grappling with an economic downturn and humanitarian crisis, along with the rest of the country.

Additionally, a Drought and paralyzed international aid has put Afghanistan’s more than 30 million people in an increasingly desperate situation, especially as winter approaches.

Victor Blue contributed reporting from Kabuli

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