Explosion at Afghan mosque kills 33 in Kunduz

It is unclear who was behind the attack during Friday prayers, which follows blast at Shiite mosque a day earlier

Taliban fighters and medical staff stand outside the gate of an hospital as they prepare to attend to the casualties after an explosion at Imam Sahib district in Kunduz province on April 22, 2022.  AFP
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A Taliban official says a bombing at a Sunni mosque and religious school in northern Afghanistan on Friday killed at least 33 people, including students of a religious school.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted news of the devastating bombing in the town of Imam Saheb, in Kunduz Province, saying it also wounded another 43 people, many of them students.

He added efforts were being made to apprehend the "evil elements" behind the attack on Mawlavi Sikandar mosque.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

Images posted to social media which could not be immediately verified showed holes blown through the walls of the mosque.

A nurse at a nearby district hospital told AFP over the phone that between 30 to 40 casualties had been admitted from the blast.

"The people had gathered to worship in the mosque, and a blast happened," an eyewitness also told AFP over the phone. "There were a lot of casualties, around 30 to 40 people were injured and killed."

The blast follows a series of attacks on Afghanistan's minority Shiite community in recent weeks, including an explosion at a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Thursday.

The local affiliate of extremist group ISIS claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on its Telegram channel.

Islamic State in Khorasan Province — or IS-K — said the explosive device that devastated Mazar-e-Sharif’s Sai Doken mosque was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshippers. As they knelt in prayer, it exploded.

“When the mosque was filled with [people praying], the explosives were detonated remotely,” the extremists said.

The group claimed 100 people were injured in the blast. Some reports said 11 people were killed in the attack.

The Taliban say they have arrested a former IS-K leader in northern Balkh province, of which Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital.

Zabihullah Noorani, information and culture department chief in Balkh province, said Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was detained in connection with Thursday’s mosque attack.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated the group but analysts say ISIS terrorists remain a key security challenge.

Since seizing power last summer, the Taliban have regularly raided suspected ISIS hideouts in the eastern Nangarhar province.

Updated: April 22, 2022, 7:36 PM