Shia mosque bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least 47, claimed by ISKP | Afghanistan

A suicide bomber at a mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar has killed at least 47 people and injured more than 80, in the second major attack on Shia worshipers in Afghanistan in a week.

The Imam Bargah Mosque was particularly crowded when the attackers struck because the community had held memorial prayers for the victims of the previous bombing in northern Kunduz province.

Friday’s attack, like the previous bombing, was claimed by Islamic State’s local subsidiary, Islamic State Khorasan province (ISKP), which has a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shia minority.

Four men arrived around noon. 1 p.m. local time (0930 BST) and detonated at least one bomb at the mosque gate and two more among two more among worshipers inside, witnesses said.

“It was prayer time when the sound of three to four shots was heard and shortly after there was an explosion in the mosque,” said Basir Ahmadi, who was waiting outside Kandahar’s main hospital for news of wounded relatives.

The blasts left blood smeared all over the green prayer hall, where dazed and wounded survivors sat waiting for help among the bodies of the dead. Glass in doors and windows was blown out.

Kandahar is the heartland of the Taliban, and it is the first time in recent years that its Shia minority has become a direct target of a terrorist attack there.

A map of Kandahar showing the Imam Bargah Mosque, where the suicide bombing took place, and the Mirwai Regional Hospital, where the victims were taken.

The bombing happened a week after a similar suicide attack in a mosque in northern Kunduz province killed at least 46 people. The attack was claimed by a local branch of Islamic State. “We [Shia] are finished, we are so unlucky, ”said Ali Reza, crying outside Mirwai’s hospital after being told his cousin was dead.

The killings and other IS bombings – including an attack on an assembly of senior Taliban in Kabul – undermine the Taliban’s claim that they have brought security to Afghanistan after decades of war.

Their leaders have presented the chance for peace as a major advantage of their rule, as Afghans pay a high economic price for the sudden national takeover of a group whose leaders are on UN terror sanctions lists.

They have yet to gain recognition from their government from any other country, and the national economy is collapsing after the abrupt end of international support, hitting military and police services for health care and education.

“People were only happy for the Taliban because they thought there would be security. But now there is neither security nor employment opportunities for people, “said a social activist, who asked not to be mentioned.

“Life becomes difficult and risky in Afghanistan for any Afghan, especially for Shia Muslims, as IS only targets Shia Muslims in Afghanistan. The world communities must help Afghanistan and Afghans in this terrible time.”

Since the Taliban took control, IS has claimed a number of attacks across the north and east, where they are largely based at the moment. This bombing of the southern stronghold of the Taliban represents an even stronger challenge for the new government.

Due to an increase in attacks on Shia Muslims in Afghanistan in recent years, the Imam Bargah Mosque had armed guards until two months ago, Ahmadi said. It is the largest that serves the city’s Shia community and draws hundreds of worshipers to prayers, making it an obvious potential target.

The militants’ promise that they had brought security to a city particularly hard hit by the conflict of the last two decades, and their desire to tighten control of a country loaded with weapons after years of war, may have left the mosque bare.

“Before the Taliban took over, there were some Shia guards outside the mosque. “But the Taliban collected all the weapons from these security guards and now there are no people to guard this great mosque, even though there is an obvious risk to Shia people in Afghanistan,” he said.

At Mirwai’s regional hospital, a surgeon, Mohammad Rafiq, said 32 dead had been brought to the hospital, but other bodies had been taken home directly from the mosque. There were also at least 80 wounded and his staff were overwhelmed with victims and lacked blood for transfusions.

“The hospital does not have the capacity to treat more injured now, and therefore those who are not seriously injured are being referred to private hospitals in the city,” he said. A call for blood donations brought an overwhelming response, with dozens of men, both Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims, queuing outside the hospital to donate.

The Taliban government offered its condolences to the families of the victims and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice, said a statement from its spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid.

The majority of sectarian attacks on Shia civilians in recent years have been attributed to the regional Islamic State affiliation.

The group, under its extreme interpretation of Islam, does not consider Shia Muslims to be Muslims and has targeted them for killing wherever it operates.

The Taliban have not claimed any sectarian attacks in recent years, even though they persecuted the Hazara minority, who make up most of the country’s Shia Muslims, when they ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

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