After Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, a huge explosion killed more than 50 people, according to the mosque’s leader, the latest in a string of strikes on civilian targets in Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The incident occurred in the early afternoon at the Khalifa Sahib Mosque in the capital’s west, according to Besmullah Habib, deputy spokesman for the interior ministry, who stated the official confirmed dead toll was ten.
After Friday prayers, attendees at the Sunni mosque gathered for an assembly known as Zikr, a religious commemoration practiced by some Muslims but considered heretical by some hardline Sunni groups.
According to the mosque’s leader, Sayed Fazil Agha, a suicide bomber joined them in the ceremony and detonated explosives.
He told media that “black smoke ascended and spread everywhere, dead bodies were everywhere,” and that his nephews were among the deceased. “I made it out alive, but I lost my loved ones.”
Mohammad Sabir, a local, said he saw injured individuals being transported into ambulances.
“I believed my eardrums were cracked since the blast was so loud,” he claimed.
The Emergency Hospital in Kabul’s downtown claimed it was treating 21 people, two of whom were already dead when they arrived. A nurse at another hospital, who did not want to be identified, said the facility had received multiple critically injured patients. According to a health source, hospitals have received at least 30 bodies thus far.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokeswoman for the ruling Taliban, issued a statement condemning the blast and promising that the offenders would be apprehended and punished.
It was unclear who was to blame right away.
In recent weeks, a number of Afghan civilians have been killed in bombings, some of which have been claimed by Islamic State. The most recent attack occurred on the last Friday of Ramadan, when most Muslims fast, and just before the holy celebration of Eid, which falls next week.
Since taking power in August, the Taliban claim to have secured the country and largely eradicated Islamic State’s local offshoot, but international authorities and analysts think the threat of militancy rebirth persists.
The Shi’ite minority has been the target of many of the attacks, but Sunni mosques have also been targeted.
On Thursday, bombs exploded aboard two passenger vehicles carrying Shi’ite Muslims in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing at least nine people. Last Friday, during Friday prayers in Kunduz, a blast ripped through a Sunni mosque, killing 33 people.