IS accepts responsibility
for bombing another
Shiite mosque in Afghanistan

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KABUL: Just a week after another Shiite mosque in Afghanistan has been attacked. Suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar during Friday prayers, witnesses said, killing at least 41 people and injuring scores more.

The assault came just a week after a suicide attack on Shia worshippers at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz, which was claimed by the Islamic State group.

There has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the attack in Kandahar, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban.“Our initial information shows it was a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the mosque. We have launched an investigation to find out more,” a local Taliban official told AFP.

Hafiz Abdulhai Abbas, director of health for Kandahar, told AFP: “Information from the hospitals shows 41 killed about 70 wounded in today’s mosque attack.”

At least 15 ambulances were seen rushing to and from the scene, as Taliban security threw a cordon around the area. “We are overwhelmed,” a doctor at the city’s central Mirwais hospital said.

Eyewitnesses spoke of gunfire alongside the explosions, and a security guard assigned to protect the mosque said three of his comrades had been shot as the bombers fought their way in.

Masjid Jamia Fatmia (Shiite Mosque in Kandahar) which was made target of suicide attack on Friday killing about 41 worshippers.

Sayed Rohullah said “It was the Friday prayer time, and when we were preparing I heard shots. Two people had entered the mosque. “They had opened fire on the guards and in response the guards had also opened fire on them. One of them committed a suicide blast inside the mosque.”

Two more attackers detonated their bombs in crowded areas outside the main building, he and other witnesses said.“We are saddened to learn that an explosion took place in a mosque of the Shia brotherhood in the first district of Kandahar city in which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” tweeted Taliban interior ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the Islamic Emirate condemned the incident and considered it a “great crime”. He said that the perpetrators would be arrested and brought to justice.

The attacks have caused shock and terror among members of Afghanistan’s Shi’ite minority and undermine the ruling Taliban movement’s claim to have restored security since taking control of the country in August.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said security forces had been ordered to capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice under Islamic law.

Fighters of Daesh have repeatedly targeted Shi’ites in the past with large-scale attacks intended to kill civilians, including one that killed scores of schoolgirls in a Shi’ite district of Kabul in May last year.

Islamic State accepts responsibility

The militant Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar that killed at least 41 people and injured scores more.

The Friday assault came just a week after another IS-claimed attack on Shia worshippers at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed more than 60 people.

In a statement released on its Telegram channels, the group said two Islamic State suicide bombers carried out separate attacks on different parts of the mosque in Kandahar — the spiritual heartland of the Taliban — while worshippers prayed inside.

The group, a bitter rival of the Taliban, which swept back to power in Afghanistan in August as the United States and its allies withdrew, regards Shia Muslims as heretics.

Pakistan condemns ‘terrorist attack’

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement condemning the “heinous terrorist attack”. “The government and people of Pakistan convey their support, and heartfelt condolences, to the people of Afghanistan and stand in solidarity with them in this hour of grief.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including despicable attacks on places of worship,” FO spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said.

Saudi Arabia condemns attack

Saudi Arabia strongly condemned an attack that targeted a mosque in southern Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said on Friday. Suicide bombers attacked the Shiite Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan on Friday.

The mosque was packed with worshippers attending Friday prayers and the attack killed at least 47 people and wounded 70, a Taliban official said.

The ministry expressed the Kingdom’s hope for stability in Afghanistan as soon as possible and stressed its support for the Afghan people. It also reiterated the Kingdom’s rejection of such criminal acts which are incompatible with all religious principles, morals, and human values.