Accept: An explosion at a mosque in northern Afghanistan targeting Shia worshipers left at least 100 people dead or wounded, a Taliban police official said.
The official, Dost Mohammad Obaida, deputy police chief of Kunduz province, said “most of them have been killed.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion that took place in the city of Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but Islamic State militants have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslim minorities.
If confirmed, the death toll in Friday’s attack will be the highest in a militant attack since US and NATO troops left Afghanistan in late August, and the Taliban took control of the country. The Taliban have been targeted by a series of deadly IS attacks, including shooting ambushes and an explosion at a mosque in the capital Kabul.
The blast took place during the weekly Friday prayer service at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque. The Friday noon prayer is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, and mosques are typically crowded. Witness Ali Reza said he was praying at the time of the explosion and reported seeing many injured.
Photos and video from the site showed rescuers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket from the mosque to an ambulance. The stairs at the entrance to the mosque were covered in blood.
Earlier Friday, Chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Shiite mosque was the target and that a “large number” of worshipers were killed and wounded. He said Taliban special forces had arrived at the scene and were investigating the incident.
The Taliban leadership has struggled with a growing threat from the local affiliation with Islamic State, known as Islamic State in Khorasan. IS militants have intensified attacks to target their rivals, including two deadly bombings in Kabul.