KABUL: Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near a mosque for Shias in Kabul on Friday, police said.

At least 20 people were injured in the attack claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group. The attack took place in the north of the Afghan capital as worshippers were inside Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shia centres in the city, for Friday prayers.

“The bomber was grazing a herd of sheep and before reaching his target he detonated himself, some 140 metres from Hussainia mosque,” General Salim Almas, Kabul’s criminal investigative director, said.

IS claims responsibility for the attack

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said that five civilians were killed and 20 others wounded. Three suspects have been detained.

Kabul’s Emergency hospital tweeted that it had received 33 casualties including six children. Six dead were among the casualties.

A photo posted on Twitter taken at the scene of the attack shows a man on the ground, covered in blood. A severed leg belonging to someone else is beside him.

Following the attack the Taliban were quick to distance themselves from the bombing.

“Today’s Kabul attack has nothing to do with us. After a thorough investigation we found out that we had no operation in Kabul, and this attack is not linked to us,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said.

The Khorasan province affiliate of IS later claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement, the SITE monitoring group said.

A shopkeeper said the suicide bomber blew himself to bits after he was identified by suspicious civilian guards who had set up a checkpoint about 200 metres from the mosque.

Afghanistan has trained and armed more than 400 civilians to help protect Shia mosques during the holy month of Muharram in an unprecedented move aimed at boosting security at religious sites, underscoring the deteriorating security in the war-torn country.

The attacker had apparently wanted to reach the mosque while worshippers were still inside the prayer hall.

Afghan security forces patrolled the dirt street where the attack happened. Nearby shops were badly damaged by the blast.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2017

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