An explosion left at least three dead and 12 injured this Friday (12) in a mosque outside Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparent attack, but Friday’s explosion repeats a pattern of other attacks that the Islamic State (IS) assumed was authorship.
It’s the fifth incident of its kind in the past 40 days. The terrorist group presented itself as responsible for all of them, three of which took place on Fridays, a day considered sacred by Muslims.
On October 3, a mosque in Kabul was attacked during a memorial service for the mother of Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokeswoman for the Taliban Islamic fundamentalist group. Five days later, at least 55 people died in a similar attack in Kunduz.
The following week, at least 35 killed and 70 wounded in a triple explosion at a mosque in Kandahar. Earlier this month, a suicide attack killed another 25 people at a hospital in Kabul.
The number of casualties this Friday is still uncertain. International news agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press have yet to confirm the deaths. AFP, citing sources at a hospital in Jalalabad, confirms at least three deaths.
According to local residents, the explosion occurred around 1:30 pm, local time (6:00 am in Brasília). Photos posted on social media show what the bodies of the victims would be amidst rubble and broken glass inside the mosque.
According to witnesses heard by AFP, a bomb had been installed in a loudspeaker. When the equipment was turned on to start the day of prayer at the mosque, the explosives were detonated. The local imam, an Islamic priest responsible for conducting the ceremony, is among the wounded.
The stricken mosque is frequented by Sunni Muslims, the same strand of Islam followed by ISIS and the Taliban, which regained power in Afghanistan in August after the withdrawal of Western troops who had remained in the country for two decades.
Even though both extremist groups are Sunni and radical, the Islamic State and the Taliban are rivals. The Afghan branch of the jihadist faction, the Islamic State-Khorasan (EI-K), has claimed responsibility for four major attacks in the country since the Taliban’s return to power, including explosions at Shiite mosques and the attack on Kabul airport during withdrawal en masse led by Western countries.
Jalalabad, where Friday’s explosion took place, is the capital of Nangarhar province, which in turn is considered an EI-K stronghold. While the bloody attacks indicate an escalation of terrorism in Afghanistan, the Taliban has publicly downplayed the actions of the Islamic State.
On Wednesday, Mujahid, the group’s spokesman, said the EI-K “is more or less under control” and “not much of a threat”. At the time, he announced the arrest of 600 people linked to the rival faction.