ISIS claims suicide bombing in Afghanistan mosque kills 55
Afghanistan‘s Kunduz mosque blast: Several more victims of the minority community were injured in this blast, which was claimed by the ISIS group and was designed to further destabilize Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
Kabul: At least 55 people were killed on Friday in a suicide bombing attack on worshipers at a Shia mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the bloodiest attack since the US military left the country.
Several more victims of the minority community were injured in the blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State group and was designed to further destabilize Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
The Islamic State group, a bitter rival of the Taliban, has repeatedly targeted Shias for inciting sectarian violence in Sunni-majority Afghanistan.
In a statement released on its Telegram channels, Islamic State said an IS suicide bomber “detonated an explosive vest among a crowd of Shia worshipers who had gathered inside the mosque”.
The statement identified the attacker as “Muhammad al-Uiguri”, meaning he was a member of China’s predominantly Muslim Uighur minority.
A medical source at Kunduz provincial hospital said 35 dead and over 55 injured were taken there, while Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said 20 dead and several other injured were brought to its hospital.
Matiullah Rouhani, director of culture and information in Kunduz for Afghanistan’s new Taliban government, confirmed to AFP that the fatality was a suicide attack, adding that 46 people were killed and 143 were injured.
Kunduz’s Taliban security chief Mulawi Dost Muhammad accused the attackers of trying to create trouble between Shias and Sunnis and insisted there was no conflict between the movement and the minority.
“We assure our Shia brothers that in future we will provide them security and they will not face such problems,” he said.
Residents of Kunduz, the capital of a province of the same name, told AFP that the blast occurred during Friday prayers at the mosque, which is the most important day of the week for Muslims.
A witness, Rahmatullah, said that 300 to 400 worshipers were inside.
Graphic images shared on social media, and which could not be immediately confirmed, showed several bloodied bodies lying on the floor. In the pictures, plumes of smoke are seen rising in the air over Kunduj.
A female teacher in Kunduz told AFP that the blast happened near her house and killed several of her neighbors. “It was a terrible incident,” she said.
“Many of our neighbors were killed and injured. A 16-year-old neighbor was killed. They could not find half of his body. Another neighbor who was 24 was also killed.”
Aminullah, an eyewitness whose brother was in the mosque, said: “After hearing the explosion, I called my brother but he did not pick up.
“I went towards the mosque and found my brother injured and unconscious. We immediately took him to the MSF hospital.”
Kunduz’s location makes it a major transit point for economic and trade exchanges with Tajikistan.
It was the scene of fierce fighting as the Taliban returned to power this year.
Often targeted by Sunni extremists who see them as heretics, Shia Muslims have faced some of Afghanistan’s most violent attacks, with rallies bombed, hospitals targeted, and travelers attacked.
Shias make up about 20 percent of the Afghan population. Many of them are Hazaras, an ethnic group that has been heavily persecuted in Afghanistan for decades.
In October 2017, an ISIS suicide bomber attacked a Shia mosque gathered for evening prayers west of Kabul, killing 56 people and injuring 55, including women and children.
And last May, a series of bombings outside a school in the capital killed at least 85 people, mostly young girls. More than 300 people were injured in this attack on the Hazara community.
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told AFP that the Taliban would struggle to consolidate their regime unless they deal with terrorism and the economic crisis.
“If the Taliban is unable to address these concerns, as possible, it will struggle to gain domestic legitimacy, and we may see the rise of a new armed resistance,” he warned.
The UN in Afghanistan said it was “deeply concerned by reports of high casualties” in Friday’s attack, calling it “part of a disturbing pattern of violence”.
UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva that the blast was “a sign that the explosion (of Afghanistan) could also turn into renewed insecurity.”
This, he said, means “more people killed, more terrorist attacks, more instability. And this is also something we should all be concerned about”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by News East India staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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