At least 27 dead, 35 wounded in suicide bomb attack on Shi'ite mosque in Kabul

Afghan security forces keep watch in front of a mosque where an explosion happened in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov 21, 2016.
Afghan security forces keep watch in front of a mosque where an explosion happened in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov 21, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (REUTERS, AFP) – A suicide bomber on Monday (Nov 21) killed at least 27 people and wounded 35 in an explosion at a crowded Shi'ite mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials said.

The attacker entered the Baqir ul Olum mosque during a ceremony, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police Criminal Investigation Department, said at least 27 people were killed and 35 wounded when the explosion tore through the worshippers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“I was in the mosque, the people were offering prayers. Suddenly I heard a bang and windows broke. I had no idea what had happened. I rushed out screaming,” Ali Jan said.

Worshippers were gathering to mark the Shi'ite ceremony of Arbaeen, which comes 40 days after the major festival of Ashura.

Ashura commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was assassinated in the year 680.

His fate laid the foundation for the faith practised by the Shi'ite community, a minority in mainly Sunni Muslim Afghanistan.

Arbaeen marks the end of the mourning period over his death.

Although Afghanistan has not suffered sectarian violence comparable to that experienced by many Middle Eastern countries, the attack underlines the deadly new dimension that growing ethnic tension could give to its decades-long conflict.

In July, more than 80 people were killed in an attack on a demonstration by the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority that was claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants