Bomb kills at least 100 at Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s Kunduz


The Hindu

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Bomb kills at least 100 at Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s Kunduz

An apparent bomb attack on worshippers at a Shia mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz killed at least 100 people on Friday, in the bloodiest assault since US forces left the country.

Scores more victims from the minority community were injured in the blast, which has not been claimed but appears designed to further destabilise Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

A medical source at the Kunduz Provincial Hospital said that 35 dead and more than 50 injured had been taken there, while a worker at a Doctors Without Borders hospital reported 15 dead and scores more wounded.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier said an unknown number of people had been killed and injured when “an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots” in Kunduz.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group, arch-rival of the Taliban, has claimed similar recent atrocities. Residents of Kunduz, the capital of a province of the same name, told AFP the blast hit a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers, the most important of the week for Muslims.

Kunduz’s location makes it a key transit point for economic and trade exchanges with Tajikistan. It was the scene of fierce battles as the Taliban fought their way back into power this year. Often targeted by Sunni extremists, Shiite Muslims have suffered some of Afghanistan’s most violent assaults, with rallies bombed, hospitals targeted and commuters ambushed.

Shias make up roughly 20% of the Afghan population. Many of them are Hazara, an ethnic group that has been heavily persecuted in Afghanistan for decades. In October 2017, a lone IS suicide attacker struck a Shiite mosque as worshippers gathered for evening prayers in the west of Kabul, killing 56 people and wounding 55, including women and children.

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