Dozens dead as blast rips mosque in Afghan city during Friday prayers

Dozens dead as blast rips mosque in Afghan city during Friday prayers
Dozens dead as blast rips mosque in Afghan city during Friday prayers

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - KABUL — A powerful explosion has hit a mosque in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people, officials say.

Images posted on social media said to be of the aftermath of the blast show extensive damage in the mosque, used by the minority Shiite Muslim community. The death toll is expected to rise.

“This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shia compatriots in the Khan Abad district of Bandar, the capital of Kunduz province, as a result of which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Muhajid said.

A doctor at Kunduz Central Hospital, who did not want to be named, said: "So far we have received 35 dead bodies and over 50 wounded people in our hospital."

Another hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) received the bodies of at least 15 people, a source said.

In a short statement posted to Twitter, a Taliban spokesman said a number of people had been killed and injured. A doctor in Kunduz told the BBC at least six deaths had been reported at a private hospital.

No group has said it was behind the explosion. But IS-K, a franchise of the wider Islamic State group, has repeatedly targeted Afghanistan's Shiite minority in the past.

The group, which is violently opposed to the Taliban, has carried out several bombings in the country recently, largely in the east of the country.

The continuation of violence, even after the Taliban takeover in August, has been met with dismay by ordinary Afghans, BBC reported

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan after foreign forces withdrew from the country following a deal between the US and the Taliban, two decades after US forces removed the militants from power in 2001.

Residents of Kunduz, the capital of a province of the same name, told AFP the blast hit a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers, the most important of the week for Muslims.

Kunduz's location makes it a key transit point for economic and trade exchanges with Tajikistan. It was the scene of fierce battles as the Taliban fought their way back into power this year. — Agencies

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