KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A car bomb exploded as worshipers exited a mosque in Kabul on Friday, killing at least seven people and wounding 41, including several children, a Taliban official said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, the latest in a string of attacks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan more than a year ago.
Columns of black smoke rose into the sky and gunfire rang out minutes after the explosion near the mosque, which is located in the famous diplomatic district of the Afghan capital.
A Taliban-appointed Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul Nafi Takor, said a vehicle with explosives was parked on the side of the road near the mosque and detonated as worshipers were leaving after Friday prayers. He added that an investigation was ongoing with local police.
“Many people were martyred or injured,” said Mohammad Basir, an eyewitness. “I don’t know if there were explosives planted by the roadside or if it was a car bomb, but there was an explosion and everyone was in a bad situation.”
Another eye witness, Allah Noor, said the explosion was very powerful.
“I was out and about crossing the street when the explosion happened,” he said. “Immediately after the explosion, people nervously started taking the injured to the hospital.”
The Italian Emergency Hospital, one of the Kabul clinics treating the victims, said it had received 14 victims from the site, with four dead on arrival.
Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, said worshipers were deliberately attacked as they exited the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque.
“Targeting mosques and worshipers is an unforgivable crime, the state must cooperate with the regime to eliminate criminals,” said Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Islamic State group – the Taliban’s main rival since taking power in Afghanistan more than a year ago – has previously attacked mosques and worshipers, particularly members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
The UN mission in Kabul tweeted that the bombing was “another bitter reminder of ongoing insecurity and terrorist activity in Afghanistan.”
“Our thoughts are with the families of those who died and wish those injured a speedy recovery,” added the mission known as UNAMA.
Faiez reports from Islamabad.
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