A blast tore through a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, causing at least 20 casualties, the commander of Kunduz province said. The attack appears to be the most recent ISIS attack in the country, a day after four other explosions killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens more.
Qari Badri, the commander of Kunduz province, told Reuters 20 people had been killed or wounded in the Friday blast.
Another explosion claimed by the Islamic State at a Shi’ite mosque in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday killed at least 11 people, a health official said. A separate blast caused at least 11 more casualties in Kunduz, another northern Afghan city, according to a provincial health official. At least two other explosions were reported on Thursday as well.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, according to statements on the group’s Telegram channel.
The explosions happened during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and two days after blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shi’ite Hazara area in western Kabul, killing at least six.
“A blast happened in 2nd district inside a Shi’ite mosque,” Mohammad Asif Wazeri, the spokesman for the Taliban commander in Mazar-e-Sharif told Reuters.
Zia Zendani, the spokesman for the provincial health authority, said 11 people had been killed and 32 wounded in the blast.
The Shi’ite community, a religious minority in Afghanistan, is frequently targeted by Sunni militant groups, including Islamic State.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said a seperate roadside blast had targeted a van of military mechanics in Kunduz and said school students were among the wounded. He added another roadside blast in the capital, Kabul, had wounded three, including a child.
Wazeri, the spokesman, also said Taliban forces had come under attack from unknown gunmen at a property in Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital, on Thursday evening and that both sides were exchanging gunfire.
Richard Bennett, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan on human rights, condemned the blasts.
“Today more explosions rocks Afghanistan… systematic targeted attacks on crowded schools and mosques calls for immediate investigation, accountability and end to human rights violations,” he said in a Tweet.
A resident of Mazar-e-Sharif said she was shopping with her sister in a nearby market when she heard a large explosion and saw smoke rising from the area around the mosque.
“The glass of the shops was broken and it was very crowded and everyone started to run,” the woman, who declined to be named, said.
Afghanistan‘s Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August, but international officials and analysts say the risk of a resurgence in militancy remains and the Islamic State militant group has claimed several attacks.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters