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KABUL: Nearly 60 people were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up in two separate mosque attacks in Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, capping a bloody week in the war-torn country.

In the first attack, on a mosque for Shias in the Afghan capital, at least 39 people including women and children were killed and 45 others wounded when a suicide bomber exploded his device as worshippers gathered for evening prayer.

“Unfortunately this evening a suicide bomber detonated himself among the worshippers inside a mosque in Dasht-i-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul city,” Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed the death toll on Twitter.

“I was in the mosque bathroom when I heard a blast. I rushed inside the mosque and saw all the worshippers covered in blood,” Hussain Ali said.

One mosque was for Shias and the other for Sunnis

“Some of the wounded were fleeing. I tried to stop someone to help me help the wounded but everyone was in a panic. It took ambulances and the police about an hour to reach the area.”

Social media users launched an online campaign calling on people to donate blood for the wounded being treated at two hospitals.

Police initially said a gunman entered the Imam Zaman mosque in a heavily Shia neighbourhood in the west of the city and opened fire on worshippers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the grisly attack but recent assaults on Shia mosques in Afghanistan have been carried out by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

In the second assault, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a Sunni mosque in the impoverished and remote central province of Ghor, killing at least 20 and wounding 10, Danish said.

A senior local police commander who is believed to have been the target of the attack in Dolaina district was among the dead, district Governor Mohsen Danishyar said, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Danishyar put the death toll as high as 30.

The attacks cap one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 120 people already killed and hundreds more wounded in four separate Taliban attacks on police and military bases.

Including Friday’s victims at the two mosque attacks, the death toll for the week now stands at more than 180.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2017

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