Kabul: Nearly 70 people were killed on Friday in a two suicide attacks on mosques in Afghanistan’s capital and in the western province of Ghor, officials said.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a mosque in a neighbourhood of Kabul predominantly populated by the Shiite Hazara minority, Public Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawusi told Eef.
The blast occurred as worshipers gathered for prayer inside the Imam Zamam mosque at around 6.00 p.m. The bomber was standing among the congregation when he detonated the explosives, police spokesman Basir Mujahid told Efe. Thirty-nine people were killed and 45 others wounded, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said on Twitter.
The Hazara, a ethnic group thought to be of Mongolian origin, are mostly adherents of Shiism, the second-largest branch of Islam. The vast majority of Afghans are Sunni Muslims. About an hour before the blast in Kabul, a suicide attacker detonated explosives at the Khwajagan mosque in the Du-Layna district of Ghor province.
The attack occurred as an important anti-Taliban militiaman, Fazal Hayat Khan, and his men were praying inside, said the provincial governor’s spokesman, Abdul Hai Khatabi. Khan and several of his men were among the roughly 30 people killed, according to Ghor police spokesman But Iqbal Nezami.
While no group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks, the Taliban said they were behind strikes this week on military and police that left 91 people dead. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the mosque attacks as “crimes against humanity”.
“The criminal terrorists who use Islam as a tool to pursue their objective put in danger the security of people, especially the faithful, which represents an attempt to divide the people of Afghanistan,” he said in a statement.
The Afghan government has been losing ground to the Taliban over the last two-and-half-years and now controls only 57 percent of the country, according to the office of United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.