KANDAHAR: At least 40 people lost their lives and 60 others were injured in a blast that targeted a mosque in Kandahar city, capital of southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province on Friday.
Eyewitnesses said three back-to-back explosions hit the mosque, one of the biggest in Kandahar city, causing high casualties.
According to eyewitnesses, three men equipped with guns and explosives first opened fire on the worshipers and then detonated their explosives in three different parts of the city.
The explosion targeted the Imam Barga mosque of Shiite Muslims, causing heavy casualties, Spokesman for the Interior Ministry Qari Sayed Khosti has confirmed the blast and casualties.
According to Voice of America, the blast went off during Friday prayers, usually attended by large crowds. Pictures and videos shared on social media showed a bloody scene inside the mosque, with bodies and body parts strewn about and worshippers trying to rescue the wounded.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Bilal Karimi, has confirmed that the bomb attack in Kandahar “killed and injured a number of compatriots.” He said an investigation into the violence is ongoing “to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in a statement condemned the attack and asked security authorities to identify and bring to justice the culprits.
“Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan condemns attack on a mosque in Kandahar here all innocent people were killed and call the incident a heinous crime. IEA condole all the families of victims.” Reads the statement. In the meantime, the UN in a Twitter post condemned the attack and asked for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Zabihullah Mujahid, deputy minister for the Ministry of Information and Culture also condemned the attack and called it a major crime. Former president Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as well.
The explosion came a week after a Friday-prayer attack in another Afghan city, Kunduz, left more than 50 dead. That attack was claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the local branch of the Islamic State group. ISKP had claimed an Uyghur carried out the Kunduz attack.
In an interview with VOA earlier this week, Taliban Deputy Information Minister Zabihulah Mujahid denied that ISKP was a serious threat, despite multiple attacks, including one on a gathering for the last rituals of Mujahid’s own mother in Kabul.
He said the only reason why ISKP had managed to carry out attacks in recent weeks was that the Taliban broke open many jails when it took over the country, allowing ISKP facilitators to escape.
“Our forces are trying to find its roots. In the last week-and-a-half, we have arrested several people belonging to IS and have destroyed several of their safe houses. We have neutralized several of their attacks,” Mujahid said.
ISKP claimed an Uyghur had carried out the Kunduz attack, but Mujahid said China had not discussed the issue with the Taliban.
This is the fourth high-profile attack IS Khorasan has carried out since August 15, the day the Taliban walked into Kabul.
The group also claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on Kabul airport while thousands of Afghans who were fleeing from the Taliban were being evacuated. That attack killed nearly 100 Afghans and 13 American service personnel. TF Report