KABUL, Afghanistan – A bomb blast at a mosque during Friday prayers in northern Afghanistan killed dozens of people, according to a Taliban official, the latest reminder of the precarious security situation across the country since the Taliban’s recent takeover.
Eyewitnesses said a powerful explosion caused many casualties. Matullah Rohani, a Taliban official in Kunduz, told local media that at least one person was killed and more than 1,140 were injured in the attack.
This is the deadliest attack in Afghanistan since a suicide bomber struck outside the country’s capital, Kabul, on August 2.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But a few days after the attack by Islamic State outside a mosque in the capital, Kabul, several people were killed. The group also claimed responsibility for a devastating airport attack in August.
The Islamic State of Khorasan, or ISIS, a Sunni extremist group, has long targeted Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, almost exclusively focusing on the Hazara ethnic minority, which is largely Shia.
The newly formed Taliban government, which toppled the country’s Western-backed administration in August, is battling a collapsing economy as foreign funding is cut off and with Islamic State fighters carrying out guerrilla-style attacks and bombings across the country.
A few months before the withdrawal of American troops, about 10,000 to 10,000 jihadi fighters from Central Asia, Russia’s North Caucasus region, Pakistan and western China’s Xinjiang region arrived in Afghanistan, a UN report concluded in June. Most are affiliated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, which is closely linked, but others are allied with the Islamic State.
Taliban officials have moved away from leading the insurgency to form a functioning state, providing security for people affected by more than 40 years of war. But the Islamic State attack has undermined the Taliban’s promises, leading to swift and violent retaliation against the terrorist group.