A bombing at a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul during evening prayers on Wednesday killed at least ten people and injured at least 27, according to eyewitnesses and police.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the country’s latest in the year since the Taliban took power. Several children were said to be among the injured.
Since the former insurgents’ takeover last August, as US and NATO troops were nearing the end of their withdrawal from the country, the Islamic State group’s local affiliate has increased attacks on Taliban and civilians. The IS claimed responsibility for the death of a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious center in Kabul last week.
The explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber, according to an eyewitness, a resident of the city’s Kher Khanna neighborhood, where the Siddiquiya Mosque was targeted. The slain cleric’s name was Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli, according to an eyewitness who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He also stated that over 30 other people were injured.
According to the Italian Emergency Hospital in Kabul, at least 27 injured civilians, including five children, were transported there from the site of the bomb blast. There were concerns that the death toll would rise further.
The Taliban-appointed spokesman for Kabul police chief, Khalid Zadran, confirmed an explosion inside a mosque in northern Kabul but refused to provide a casualty count or a breakdown of the dead and injured.
The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, also condemned the explosion and promised that “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and punished.”
Following September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, a US-led invasion toppled the previous Taliban government, which had hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The former insurgents have faced a crippling economic crisis since regaining power, as the international community, which does not recognize the Taliban government, has frozen funding to the country.
Separately, the Taliban confirmed on Wednesday that they had captured and killed Mehdi Mujahid while he was attempting to cross the border into Iran in the western Herat province.
Mujahid was a former Taliban commander in the northern Sar-e-Pul province district of Balkhab, and the Taliban’s only member of the minority Shiite Hazara community. Mujahid had turned against the Taliban in the previous year after disagreeing with Taliban leaders in Kabul.