Dozens of people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s northeastern city of Kunduz during Friday prayers, the country’s worst attack since the Taliban took over control in August.
Video footage on Friday showed bodies surrounded by debris inside the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque that is used by people from the minority Shia Muslim community.
There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties. The UN mission to Afghanistan said in a tweet the suicide blast killed and wounded more than 100 people.
Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, also said at least 100 people were killed or wounded in the attack, adding that the “majority of them have been killed”.
“I assure our Shia brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Obaida said, adding that an investigation was under way.
Meanwhile the state-run Bakhtar News Agency said at least 43 people were killed while at least 143 others were wounded in the incident in the Khan Abad area of Kunduz city.
A deputy director for the province’s health department said there were “around 50 dead and at least 50 wounded,” DPA news agency reported.
According to Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, media quoting security officials have reported the explosion as a “suicide bombing attack”.
“A suicide bomber managed to get into the Shia mosque by midday today in Kunduz, detonated himself and this explains the high number of casualties,” Ahelbarra said, reporting from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
“[People in Kunduz] said the scenes were horrifying with panic … they were struggling to deal with the human remains scattered throughout the back yard of the mosque.
“They expect the death toll to further climb in further hours because they say many people who were injured are in critical condition.”
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, groups affiliated to the ISIL (ISIS) group have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
There have been several attacks, including one at a mosque in Kabul, in recent weeks, some of which have been claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K).
Earlier, a medical source at the Kunduz Provincial Hospital said 35 dead and more than 50 wounded had been taken there, while a worker at a Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) hospital reported 15 dead and many more wounded.
“We have received more than 90 wounded patients and over 15 dead bodies, but the number will change. We are still receiving more people,” said the MSF hospital worker, who did not want to be named.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
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