Kabul: At least 20 dead after ISIS-claimed Shi’a mosque attack
By: RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
A senior Afghan health official says at least 20 people were killed after militants stormed a Shi’ite mosque in the capital, Kabul, in an attack claimed by the extremist group ISIS.
Mohammad Salim Rasouli, chief of Kabul’s hospitals, said at least 50 more were wounded, many of them children, in the hours-long attack on August 25.
Police said two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance of the Imam Zaman Mosque in Kabul’s Qala-e Najara area, while two other attackers stormed the building.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told RFE/RL that the “terrorist attack” took place at around 1:20 p.m. as worshippers gathered for Friday Prayers.
Danish said two police officers were among the dead.
A cleric who was leading the service in the mosque was among those killed, according to reports.
Meanwhile, police official Mohammad Sadique Muradi said the hours-long attack ended with all four attackers dead.
Two of them blew themselves up and another two were later shot by Afghan security forces, Muradi said.
Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said a suicide bomber “detonated himself” inside the mosque.
An unidentified police official cited witnesses as reporting a blast followed by gunfire.
Other witnesses said that gunmen threw grenades before entering the mosque.
The ISIS-linked Amaq news agency said the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
Shi’a are a minority in Afghanistan who have been threatened and attacked in the past by various Sunni militant groups — including ISIS and Taliban extremists.
Last month, ISIS militants attacked the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul, killing two local employees, and later threatened to attack Shi’ite places of worship in Afghanistan.
And on August 1, at least 32 people were killed and more than 60 injured by a suicide bomber and a gunman who targeted a Shi’ite mosque in the western city of Herat in an attack claimed by the ISIS group.
The August 25 assault comes after President Donald Trump outlined earlier this week the new U.S. strategy for the war-torn country.
It also underscores increased insecurity in Afghanistan as a resurgent Taliban steps up offensives across the country.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and dpa