Huge explosion hits Kabul mosque, killing at least 21

A Taliban Mil Mi-24 military helicopter flies over Kabul, on Aug 17, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (REUTERS, AFP) - A blast that tore through a Kabul mosque during evening prayers on Wednesday (Aug 17) had killed 21 people, Kabul police said on Thursday.

Police spokesman Khalid Zadran said that another 33 people had been injured in the blast.

Witnesses had told Reuters that the powerful explosion was heard in a northern Kabul neighbourhood, shattering windows in nearby buildings.

“A blast happened inside a mosque...the blast has casualties, but the numbers are not clear yet,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told Reuters.

The Taliban intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the explosion occurred in a mosque among worshippers in the Khair Khana neighbourhood northwest of Kabul.

The Imam of the mosque was among those killed and the toll could still rise, the source added.

Intelligence teams are at the blast site and investigations are ongoing.

"Most of the patients we received following the explosion inside a mosque are suffering from shell and burn injuries," said Italian non-governmental organisation, Emergency, which operates a hospital in Kabul.

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter: “The murderers of civilians and perpetrators...will soon be punished for their crimes."

Wednesday’s blast comes nearly a week after a suicide attack killed a top Taliban cleric at his madrassa in Kabul.

On Aug 11, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the madrassa of cleric Rahimullah Haqqani, who was killed along with his brother.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

Since the Taliban seized power a year ago, there has been significant fall in violence across the country.

However, the ISIS has regularly carried out attacks, primarily targeting minority communities such as Shiites, Sufis and Sikhs.

The Taliban say they have defeated the ISIS, but experts say the group is a key security challenge for the hardline Islamists.

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