Popular TV imam killed in bomb blast at Kabul mosque

Afghan security forces keep watch outside a mosque after a blast in Kabul on May 24, 2019.
Afghan security forces keep watch outside a mosque after a blast in Kabul on May 24, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (AFP) - A blast at a Kabul mosque during Friday prayers killed two people, including a prominent Afghan religious scholar, and injured 16 others, officials said.

The bomb at Al-Taqwa mosque in the east of the capital appeared to target Mr Mawlawi Raihan, an imam who appeared frequently on religious shows broadcast on local TV.

President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, blaming "terrorists".

They "are justifying their crimes and misinterpreting religious values and teachings by silencing the voice of a brave religious scholar and patriot", Mr Ghani said.

The explosion took place around 1.20pm during Friday prayers, which in the holy month of Ramadan are usually well attended.

Police spokesman Firdaws Faramarz confirmed Mr Raihan had died in what he said was a blast caused by a standalone bomb.

"It was not a suicide attack," he said.

While Kabul has seen frequent attacks on Shi'ite shrines and gatherings - particularly by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group's Afghanistan affiliate - Mr Raihan was a Sunni.

His Facebook page features a picture of him standing alongside members of the Afghan security forces.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast.