Bombing of Kabul mosque kills at least 21 as Taliban marks anniversary of takeover




  • In Business
  • 2022-08-18 07:50:00Z
  • By LA Times
Mourners carry the body of a victim of a mosque bombing in Kabul that killed at least 21 people Thursday.
Mourners carry the body of a victim of a mosque bombing in Kabul that killed at least 21 people Thursday.  

A bombing at a mosque in the Afghan capital during evening prayers killed at least 21 people, including a prominent cleric, and wounded at least 33 others, eyewitnesses and police said Thursday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack Wednesday night in Kabul, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power. Several children were reported to be among the wounded.

The Islamic State group's local affiliate has stepped up attacks targeting the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents' takeover in August 2020 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country. Last week, the extremists claimed responsibility for killing a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious center in Kabul.

Khalid Zadran, the spokesman for Kabul's Taliban police chief, gave the casualty figures for the bombing at the Siddiquiya mosque in the city's Kher Khanna neighborhood. An eyewitness told the Associated Press that the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber.

The cleric killed Wednesday was Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli, the eyewitness said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the explosion and vowed that the "perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished."

There were fears that the casualty numbers could rise further. On Thursday morning, one witness to the blast who gave his name as Qyaamuddin told the AP that he believed as many as 25 people may have been killed.

"It was evening prayer time, and I was attending the prayer with others when the explosion happened," Qyaamuddin said. Some Afghans go by a single name.

AP journalists could see the blue-roofed Sunni mosque from a nearby hillside. The Taliban parked police trucks and other vehicles at the mosque, while several men carried out one casket for a victim of the attack.

A U.S.-led invasion toppled the previous Taliban government, which had hosted Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Since regaining power, the former insurgents have faced a crippling economic crisis as the international community, which does not recognize the Taliban government, froze funding to the country. On Thursday, the Taliban hosted a gathering of 3,000 tribal elders, religious scholars and others in Kandahar, the Taliban's state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported. It wasn't immediately clear what topics they planned to discuss.

Separately, the Taliban confirmed Wednesday that it had captured and killed Mehdi Mujahid in western Herat province as he was trying to cross the border into Iran.

Mujahid was a former Taliban commander in the district of Balkhab in northern Sar-e-Pul province, and the only member of the minority Shiite Hazara community among the Taliban ranks.

Mujahid had turned against the Taliban over the last year, after opposing decisions made by Taliban leaders in Kabul.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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