Another 74 people were injured in the explosion at the temple in the town of Kandahar
A suicide bombing with explosives in a Shiite mosque in the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, left at least 33 dead and 74 wounded, medical and Taliban sources told AFP. The attack took place a week after another similar one against worshipers in the city of Kunduz, in the north of the country, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
In the case of the attack in Kandahar, the historic fiefdom of the Taliban, there was no immediate claim. “Our initial reports show that a kamikaze blew up inside the mosque,” a local Taliban official told AFP.
A doctor from the Mirwais central hospital in Kandahar told AFP that “thirty-three bodies and 74 wounded were transferred” to that facility. “We are overwhelmed,” said the doctor. There are too many bodies and injured people in our hospital. We hope more will come. We urgently need blood. We have told all the local media in Kandahar to ask people to come and donate blood, “he added.
A witness told AFP that he heard three explosions, one at the main door of the mosque, another in the southern air and the third at the place where the faithful wash. Another witness also noted that three explosions shook the mosque in the city center during the midday prayer on Friday, the weekday rest day for Muslims, when many people gather to pray.
Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti explained on Twitter that “we are saddened to learn that there was an explosion at a Shiite brotherhood mosque in the first district of Kandahar city in which a number of our compatriots he was martyred and wounded.
According to an AFP journalist, the mosque was packed with people when the explosions occurred, and at least 15 ambulances rushed to the scene. Images released on social media, the authenticity of which could not be immediately verified, showed bodies lying on the floor of the Fatemieh Mosque.
Last Friday, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shiite mosque in Kunduz that left at least 60 dead. It was the deadliest attack since US troops left the country on August 30. IS-K is a rival to the Islamist movement of the Taliban even though they are both Sunni.
The Taliban, who have their own history of persecuting the Shiites, returned to power in Afghanistan on August 15 and have since made security their priority, after twenty years of war. Shiites make up about 10% of the Afghan population. Many of them are Hazaras, an ethnic group that has been persecuted for decades in the country.