Almost 30 worshippers have died and 70 injured in the suicide bombing attack at a Shiite mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz during the Friday prayers, says Taliban, in the most fatal assault since the US forces left.
Matiullah Rohani, the director of culture and information in Kunduz for the new Taliban government of Afghanistan confirmed that the incident in the mosque was a suicide blast.
“This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shia compatriots in the Khan Abad district of Bandar, the capital of Kunduz province, as a result of which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Muhajid said.
A medical official at the Kunduz Provincial Hospital informed that 35 dead and more than 50 injured had been admitted, while a worker at a Doctors Without Borders hospital reported 15 dead and more than 40 wounded.
The death toll has not been confirmed by the officials yet and is most likely to rise.
Dost Mohammad Obaida who is the deputy police chief for Kunduz province says that the "majority of them have been killed."
If the death toll is confirmed by the authorities, it would be the highest since August when the Taliban took over the country and US and NATO troops left.
The blast occurred on a Friday, which is considered the most important day of the week for Muslims.
Pictures and videos of the scene prevailing on social media showed horrific details with numerous bloodied bodies on the floor with debris scattered around them.
One video showed several men guiding people away from the scene and another video showed the unsettled crowd filling the streets.
Aminullah, an eyewitness whose brother was also one of the blast victims, told AFP: "After I heard the explosion, I called my brother but he did not pick up.
"I walked towards the mosque and found my brother wounded and blackout. We immediately took him to the MSF hospital.”
Zalmai Alokzai, a local businessman described horrific scenes at the hospital.
“Ambulances were going back to the incident scene to carry the dead,” he said.
An international aid worker at the MSF hospital in the city told AFP that there’s a possibility that the death toll could rise.
“Hundreds of people are gathered at the main gate of the hospital and crying for their relatives but armed Taliban men are trying to prevent gatherings in case another explosion is planned,” he said.
The blast has not been identified with the attacker as of now, but the Shiite Muslims have a long history of being targeted and have suffered Afghanistan's most brutal attacks.
Shia is a minority group consisting of up to 20% of Afghan’s population. The majority of them belong to the Hazara ethnic group. Hazaras have been targeted for decades by Sunni Muslims and have suffered atrocities for decades.
There has been a constant state of fear among the Hazaras since the Taliban started ruling again. Taliban’s past rule (from 1996 to 2001), the massacre left 2000 civilians dead, the majority of them Hazaras.
Hazaras have also been facing threats from Islamic State or ISIS since ISIS also follows Sunni beliefs like the Taliban.
In May this year, ISIS allegedly planted bombs in cars outside a school in a Hazara-dominated area in Kabul leaving more than 68 people dead, mostly young girls. The attack wounded more than 300 people from the Hazara community.
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