At least 21 worshippers dead in Kabul mosque blast

At least 21 people, including a prominent cleric, died and 33 others were injured after an explosion rocked a mosque during evening prayers on Wednesday in the Afghan capital Kabul, eyewitnesses and police said Thursday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power. Several children were reported to be among the wounded.

Police earlier said there were multiple casualties but did not say how many. One Taliban intelligence official told Reuters that as many as 35 people may have been wounded or killed, and the toll could rise further. Al-Jazeera quoted an unidentified official who put the death toll at 20.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid also condemned the explosion and vowed that the “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished.”

There were fears the casualty numbers could rise further. On Thursday morning, one witness to the blast who gave his name as Qyaamuddin told the Associated Press (AP) he believed as many as 25 people may have been killed in the blast.

“It was evening prayer time, and I was attending the prayer with others, when the explosion happened,” Qyaamuddin said.

Police spokesperson Khalid Zadran said that another 33 people had been injured in the blast.

The blast occurred during evening prayers in the Kher Khana area of the city, Zadran told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) on Wednesday.

According to an eyewitness, a resident of the city’s Kher Khanna neighborhood where the Siddiquiya Mosque was targeted, the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Prominent cleric Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli was also killed in the explosion, the eyewitness said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the explosion and vowed that the “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished.”

Despite the Taliban’s assertion that they have brought security to the nation, the country is witnessing regular attacks, mostly claimed by the Daesh terrorists. Last week, Daesh claimed responsibility for killing a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious center in Kabul.

The Taliban retook power in August 2021 during the chaotic withdrawal of the United States-led NATO forces and reimposed their strict rule. No country has yet recognized the hardliners’ de facto government.

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