IS group claims deadly blast at Shiite mosque amid series of attacks across Afghanistan

IS group claims deadly blast at Shiite mosque amid series of attacks across Afghanistan

Politics

A series of explosions across Afghanistan on Thursday killed at least 16 people and wounded scores more, according to police and health officials. The Islamic State (IS) group’s local affiliate claimed an attack on a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, which killed at least 11 people. 

An attack in Kunduz, another northern Afghan city, killed at least four people and wounded 18 others, according to a Kunduz police spokesman.

The explosions happened during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and two days after blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shiite Hazara area of the capital, Kabul, killing at least six.

Grisly images of victims being carried to hospital from Seh Dokan mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of the northern Balkh province, were posted on social media.

“Blood and fear are everywhere,” Ahmad Zia Zindani, spokesman for the Balkh provincial public health department, told AFP, adding “people were screaming” while seeking news of their relatives at the hospital.

“Relatives of victims were arriving at city hospitals looking for their near and dear ones. Many residents were also coming to donate blood,” Zindani said.

In Kunduz, a bicycle bomb targeted a vehicle carrying mechanics working for the Taliban.

Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara community, which makes up between 10 and 20 percent of the country’s 38 million people, has long been the target of the IS group, who consider them heretics.

‘Booby-trapped bag’ in mosque

“The soldiers of the caliphate managed to get a booby-trapped bag” inside the Mazar-e-Sharif mosque, detonating it from afar after it was packed with worshippers, the IS group said in a statement.

On Tuesday, two blasts outside a school in a Shiite neighbourhood of Kabul killed at least six people and wounded 25 others.

No group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated the IS group, but analysts say the jihadist group is a key security challenge. 

Since seizing power, the Taliban have regularly raided suspected IS group hideouts in the eastern Nangarhar province. 

In May last year at least 85 people – mainly female students – were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in the Shiite dominated Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul. 

No group claimed responsibility for that attack, but in October 2020, the IS group admitted a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24 people, including students. 

In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the same neighbourhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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