Dozens killed in Afghanistan mosque attack during Friday prayers

Dozens of people have been killed after an explosion at a Shiite Muslim mosque in northern Afghanistan.

A local Taliban police official has said that at least 100 worshippers have been killed or injured in the blast, which occurred during weekly Friday prayers.

Photos and video from the scene showed rescuers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket from the mosque to an ambulance.

A regional Taliban government spokesperson told AFP that the blast at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque was caused by a suicide bomber.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place in Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but militants have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslim minority.

The explosion comes five days after a deadly attack in Kabul that was claimed by the so-called Islamic State.

An investigation has been launched into the explosion, as emergency services remain at the scene.

“This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots in the Khan Abad district of Bandar, the capital of Kunduz province,” the chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

“A number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” he said, adding that Taliban special forces had arrived at the scene.

The death toll in the attack could rise to the highest since US and NATO forces left Afghanistan at the end of August.

The Taliban government have since been targeted in a series of deadly attacks, including shooting ambushes and an explosion at a mosque in the capital of Kabul.

The so-called Islamic State has also targeted Afghanistan’s religious minorities in attacks.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan condemned Friday’s attack, saying it was “part of a disturbing pattern of violence” targeting religious institutions.

A local militant affiliate also claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel outside the Kabul airport on August 26.

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