Bomb explodes in Kandahar mosque ‘killing and injuring dozens’
At least 37 people are dead and more than 70 wounded after suicide bombers targeted a mosque in southern Afghanistan.
The incident in Kandahar struck a Shia mosque during Friday prayers, when eyewitnesses suggested four attackers had launched a co-ordinated assault on the venue.
There are fears that the death toll at the Imam Bargah mosque will rise.
An eye-witness called Murtaza said two bombers attacked a security gate, allowing two more to run inside and strike the congregation of worshippers.
He said prayers at the venue are typically attended by around 500 people.
Photographs posted by journalists on social media showed many people apparently dead or seriously wounded on the bloody floor of the mosque.
Local residents have been asked to donate blood to help the victims.
Interior ministry spokesman Qari Saeed Khosti said authorities were collecting details of the explosion, which took place days after Islamic State claimed to be behind a bombing at another Shia mosque in the northern city of Kunduz, which killed 46 people.
The extremist group, which is opposed to the ruling Taliban, views Shia – or Shi’ite – Muslims as apostates who deserve to die.
The Taliban have pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war.
Like IS, they are Sunni Mislims and adhere to a rigid interpretation of Islamic law.
But IS is far more radical – viewing itself as part of a worldwide Islamic caliphate that includes better-known branches in Iraq and Syria – and is bitterly split with the ruling group on ideology.
The Taliban have pledged to protect Afghanistan’s Shiite minority, which suffered persecution during the last period of its rule, in the 1990s.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said an investigation into Friday’s attack is underway.
The latest incident underlines concerns around the security situation in Afghanistan, after the Taliban swept to power earlier this year and foreign forces were pushed into a rapid evacuation.
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