Afghanistan: ISIS claims responsibility for deadly attack on a mosque in Kunduz province, killing at least 46 people
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in the Afghan province of Kunduz, which killed at least 46 people.
The claim, carried by the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency, and cited by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant sites, came a few hours after the explosion occurred at the overcrowded Quzar Al-Sayyidabad Mosque in Kunduz city.
“There was an explosion this afternoon in a mosque for our Shiite citizens… which resulted in the death and injury of a number of our citizens,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter, adding that a special forces unit had arrived. At the scene, the accident was investigated.
According to the Afghan government’s Bakhtar News Agency, the attack killed 46 people and injured more than 140 inside the mosque, but there were reports that the death toll could be higher.
While there was confusion over the exact number of dead, Mujahid confirmed the killing and wounding of a “large number” of worshipers, amid confusion over the exact number of dead.
Friday’s attack was the deadliest in the country since US and NATO forces left Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of the country at the end of August.
A large number of Muslim worshipers gather in mosques every week for Friday prayers, the most important Islamic ritual of the week.
Video footage on social media showed widespread destruction inside the mosque and people removing the bodies and wounded worshipers outside the building.
Hossein Dad Rezaei, a resident of the area, said he rushed to the mosque when he heard the explosion, as prayers began. He said, “I came to look for my relatives, the mosque was full.”
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said the blast was part of a worrying pattern of violence, following several brutal attacks by ISIS on the country’s Shiite minority in the past. This comes in the wake of other attacks on a mosque in Kabul and a religious school in Khost province in recent days.
A prominent Shiite cleric, Syed Hossein Alimi Balkhi, condemned the attack and called on the Taliban to defend Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.
“We expect the government security forces to provide security for mosques since they collected the weapons that were provided to secure places of worship,” he said.
Since coming to power in August, the Taliban have faced significant challenges. The main threat stems from the Islamic State in Khorasan, which the Taliban said would be brought under control and carried out operations against the organization’s cells in Kabul.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International accused the Taliban themselves of committing brutal massacres and torture of several members of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority in August.