At least 46 people died and more than 140 were injured after an attack on Friday (8) in a mosque in the city of Kunduz, capital of the province of the same name located in northern Afghanistan. The information was released by state broadcaster Bakhtar, controlled by the Ministry of Information.
The Taliban’s regional head of cultural and information affairs in Kunduz, Matiullah Rohani, said, without giving further details, that the explosion was caused by a suicide attack.
On a social network, the UN mission confirmed that the initial balance indicates that “more than 100 people were killed and injured” and called the attack part of a “disturbing pattern of violence” in the Central Asian country. “The UN team is deeply concerned,” the message read.
“This afternoon [manhã no horário de Brasília] there was an explosion in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots that caused numerous deaths and injuries,” said Zabihullah Muhajid, a spokesman for the fundamentalist Taliban group, which regained power in the country in August.
Initial information, gathered by the AFP news agency from doctors working at the site, indicated that at least 50 Afghans had died in the attack.
Images shared on social media show multiple bodies near the location. The explosion occurred during the midday prayer which, on Fridays, brings an even larger group of Muslims to the mosques, as the day is sacred to followers of Islam.
Shiite Muslims make up 10-15% of the largely Sunni Afghan population, according to estimates by the Office of International Religious Freedom (US). A minority of 0.3% is made up of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.
“So far, we’ve received 35 bodies and more than 50 wounded,” a doctor at a local hospital told AFP. Shortly before this, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the scene said that the organization’s clinic had received more than 90 wounded and at least 15 dead.
No group has claimed the attack so far. The Islamic State (IS), however, has been carrying out attacks on Afghan territory since the return of the Taliban to power. The extremist Sunni group often targets Shiite Muslims, especially the Hazara ethnic minority.
Last Saturday (3), another attack —this one already claimed by IS—, also near a mosque, left five dead and 11 injured. The site hosted, at the time of the explosion, a ceremony in memory of the mother of Zabihullah Mujahid.
In September, the capital of Nangarhar province, Jalalabad, was the scene of five explosions that left three dead and 20 injured. The city is a stronghold of the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group, active since the Taliban returned to power.
EI-Khorasan, as the branch is known, was also responsible for the explosion at Kabul airport amid the evacuation of civilians from the country, which killed more than 170 Afghans and 13 US military personnel. The group has disagreements with the Taliban and threatens to destabilize the government that the Islamic fundamentalist group is trying to consolidate in order to garner international support.