Blast kills at least 5 civilians near Kabul mosque: Taliban

Published October 3, 2021
Afghan medical staff members stand at the entrance of a hospital as they wait to receive the victims of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 3. — AFP
Afghan medical staff members stand at the entrance of a hospital as they wait to receive the victims of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 3. — AFP

At least five civilians were killed in a bomb blast at the entrance of a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, a Taliban Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Qari Saeed Khosti confirmed the deaths. Initial reports indicate the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb.

Three suspects have been arrested, Bilal Karimi, a Taliban official spokesman, said. He added the investigation was ongoing.

The blast struck near the entrance of the large Eid Gah Mosque in Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter, adding that “a number of civilians” died.

A prayer ceremony for Mujahid's mother, who died last week, was being held at the mosque on Sunday afternoon, the spokesman had written on social media on Saturday, adding “all people and friends are invited to attend.”

Ahmadullah, a shopkeeper nearby, told AFP: “I heard the sound of an explosion near the Eid Gah Mosque followed by guns firing.

“Just ahead of the blast the Taliban had blocked the road to hold a prayer ceremony for Zabihullah Mujahid's mother in the Eid Gah Mosque.”

AFP journalists in two locations in the capital also heard the blast and shooting.

Ambulances carrying the wounded were seen rushing towards Kabul's Emergency Hospital in the Shahr-e Naw area. The hospital said on Twitter that four patients were being treated.

Medical staff waited outside, AFP journalists saw, as people arrived in blood-stained clothes.

The area around the mosque was cordoned off by the Taliban who maintained a heavy security presence.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August, attacks by the militant Islamic State (IS) group against them have increased. The rise has raised the possibility of a wider conflict between the two hardline groups.

IS maintains a strong presence in the eastern province of Nangarhar and considers the Taliban an enemy. It has claimed several attacks against them, including several killings in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.

Attacks in Kabul have so far been rare, but in recent weeks IS has shown signs it is expanding its footprint beyond the east and closer toward the capital. On Friday, Taliban fighters raided an IS hideout just north of Kabul in Parwan province. The raid came after an IS roadside bomb wounded four Taliban fighters in the area.

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