A large explosion tore through a Shi’ite mosque in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties, a spokesperson from the Taliban government’s interior ministry said.
Qari Saeed Khosti said authorities were gathering details of the explosion, which happened days after Isis claimed a bombing at another Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz.
Nematullah Wafa, a former member of the local provincial council, said the blast occurred at the Imam Bargah mosque and caused heavy casualties. At least 15 people are thought to have been killed and a further 31 injured, but these figures may still rise.
Taliban special forces arrived at the mosque to secure the site and an appeal went out to residents to donate blood for the victims. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Last week’s bombing in Kunduz killed about 50 people and injured some 140 more. It was the deadliest attack since US and Nato troops left Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of the country at the end of August.
The hardline Islamist group swept across Afghanistan as western forces prepared a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of occuption, taking control more swiftly than British and American leaders had expected. Though the Taliban and Isis-K, the terror group’s Afghanistan wing, are both Sunni organisations, they are bitter enemies.
Afghanistan’s returning rulers are now grappling with an escalating economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens millions with hunger.
Additional reporting by agencies