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Shiite Mosque Blast Kills Dozens in Afghanistan's Kandahar

By Ayesha Tanzeem October 15, 2021

An explosion ripped through a Shiite mosque Friday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least 47 people and wounding more than 70, according to a Taliban official.

The blast went off during Friday prayers, usually attended by large crowds. Pictures and videos shared on social media showed a bloody scene inside the mosque, with bodies and body parts strewn about and worshippers trying to rescue the wounded.

Hafiz Sayeed, the Taliban's chief for Kandahar's department of culture and information, later told The Associated Press at least 47 people were killed and at least 70 wounded.

Islamic State Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack, saying on its Telegram channels that it was carried out by two suicide bombers in different parts of the mosque.

The explosion came a week after a Friday-prayer attack in another Afghan city, Kunduz, left more than 50 dead. That attack was claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province, the local branch of the Islamic State group. IS Khorasan had claimed a Uyghur carried out the Kunduz attack.

In an interview with VOA earlier this week, Taliban Deputy Information Minister Zabihulah Mujahid denied that ISKP was a serious threat, despite multiple attacks, including one on a gathering for the last rituals of Mujahid's own mother in Kabul.

He said the only reason IS Khorasan had managed to carry out attacks in recent weeks was that the Taliban broke open many jails when it took over the country, allowing IS Khorasan facilitators to escape.

"Our forces are trying to find its roots. In the last week-and-a-half we have arrested several people belonging to IS and have destroyed several of their safe houses. We have neutralized several of their attacks," Mujahid said.

IS Khorasan claimed a Uyghur had carried out the Kunduz attack, but Mujahid said China had not discussed the issue with the Taliban.

Friday's bombing was the fourth high-profile bombing claimed by IS Khorasan since August 15, the day the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The group also claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on Kabul airport while thousands of Afghans who were fleeing from the Taliban were being evacuated. That attack killed nearly 100 Afghans and 13 American service personnel.

VOA's Ayaz Gul, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

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