A suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz killed at least 55 people attending Friday prayers, according to the AFP news agency. It was the deadliest attack since US troops left the country.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing which also injured hundreds of others, Reuters reported. ISIS has repeatedly targeted Shia groups to further destabilize the situation in Afghanistan, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim.
In a statement issued via the Islamic State Telegram messaging app, an ISIS suicide bomber “detonated a vest in the midst of a crowd of Shia Muslims inside the mosque.
Sources at Kunduz Hospital said 35 people died and more than 55 injured people were rushed to the hospital. Meanwhile Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said 20 people were killed and dozens of others injured were rushed to their hospitals.
Matiullah Rohani, director of culture and information in Kunduz, for the new Taliban government confirmed to AFP that the blast was a suicide bombing and 46 were killed and 143 injured in the attack.
Mulawi Dost Muhammad, the Taliban’s security chief in Kunduz, accused the attackers of trying to divide Shiites and Sunnis and insisted there was no tension between the Taliban and the minority group.
“We promised our Shia brothers that after this, we will provide security assistance to them and this kind of problem will not happen to them again,” he said.
An eye witness, Rahmatullah, said there were between 300 and 400 worshipers inside the mosque when the explosion occurred.
The UN mission in Afghanistan called the attack part of a disturbing pattern of violence in Afghanistan, after previous violence in recent days at a mosque in Kabul and a religious school in Khost province. In recent weeks, similar attacks have occurred, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for several of them. [dw]