At Least 12 Wounded in Blast at Afghanistan Mosque

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People inspect the inside of a mosque following a bombing in Kunduz province northern Afghanistan, last month.
People inspect the inside of a mosque following a bombing in Kunduz province northern Afghanistan, last month.Credit: Abdullah Sahil,AP

An explosion hit a mosque in the Spin Ghar area of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, wounding at least 12 people including the local mullah, residents of the area said.

Atal Shinwari, a resident of the area, said the blast occurred at around 1:30 P.M. when explosives apparently located in the interior of the mosque detonated. Another resident gave a similar account. 

A Taliban official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the blast and said casualties were feared but gave no further details.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparent attack, the latest in a series of blasts to hit mosques in Afghanistan over recent weeks, undermining the Taliban claim to have restored security after decades of war.

The mosque was attended by Sunni Muslims. Previous attacks since the Taliban takeover have struck Shi'ite mosques and have been claimed by the Sunni militant group Islamic State.

Accounts of casualties varied. Shinwari said at least 12 people had been wounded, including the imam of the mosque. Another resident said 15 people had been hurt, three seriously.

A month ago, a large explosion tore through a Shi'ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar killing at least 47 people. That explosion marked the second week in a row that militants bombed Friday prayers and killed dozens of worshipers from the minority sect. Islamic state claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement posted by the group’s Amaq news agency. 

The attacks have caused shock and terror among members of Afghanistan's Shi'ite minority and undermine the ruling Taliban movement's claim to have restored security since taking control of the country in August.

Sunni Muslim fighters of Islamic State have repeatedly targeted Shi'ites in the past with large-scale attacks intended to kill civilians, including one that killed scores of schoolgirls in a Shi'ite district of Kabul in May last year.

The Taliban are also strict Sunni Muslims but consider Islamic State their enemy and have pledged to protect all ethnic and sectarian groups since sweeping into power in August as U.S. forces withdrew.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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