Murteza Khaliqi / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A group of suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan, triggering explosions that killed dozens of people during overcrowded Friday prayers.
According to The Associated Press, Hafiz Sayeed, the Taliban’s head of Kandahar’s Department of Culture and Information, said 47 people had been killed and at least 70 injured in the attack.
Officials, however, have given slightly different casualty figures during the day.
The attack came just a week after a similar explosion killed dozens of Shia worshipers in the north of the country.
Friday’s blast took place at the Fatimiya Mosque in central Kandahar, a Taliban spokesman told the Associated Press. Local officials described it as a Shiite mosque. The cause of the explosion is not yet clear and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
A witness, Murtaza, who goes by one name, as many people in Afghanistan do, told the AP by telephone that four suicide bombers broke into the mosque – two detonating explosives at a security gate to clear the way for the other two to enter the area. where prayers took place. He said about 500 people may have been present.
The attack appears to carry the hallmarks of last week’s suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in northern Kunduz province that killed at least 45 people and injured dozens more – timed to maximum victims during Friday prayers, which typically attracts the largest number of worshipers.
The previous attack was claimed by Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, which regards Shiite Muslims as apostates and opposes the Taliban regime. While the Taliban have promised to restore order in Afghanistan after decades of war since taking full control of the country in August, ISIS affiliation has increased attacks in the country.
A spokesman for the Taliban Interior Ministry, Qari Saeed Khosti, told Reuters authorities were investigating the case. Taliban special forces also arrived to secure the site, the news agency said.