According to a Taliban official, suicide bombers attacked a Shiite Mosque packed with Friday prayers goers in southern Afghanistan. They killed at least 32 and left 68 others injured.
The Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar, province was the victim of the attack. According to one hospital official, 37 people died in the attack. This happened a week after 46 people were killed in a bombing at a Shiite mosque north of Afghanistan by an Islamic State affiliate.
Fears have been raised that IS, an enemy of the Taliban and the West, is expanding its presence in Afghanistan due to sectarian violence.
Murtaza, who, like many Afghans, goes by one name and claimed he was inside the mosque at the time of the attack. He reported four explosions, two outside and two within. According to him, Friday prayers at the mosque draw hundreds of people.
Murtaza, another witness, said that he saw two bombers. He claimed that one bomber detonated explosives at the gate and the other was among the worshippers inside.
He claimed that another suspect attacker was shot by security personnel at the mosque.
Video footage captured bodies lying on blood-stained carpets. Survivors were seen pacing around in daze, crying out in pain.
Bilal Karimi, a Taliban spokesperson, reported the death toll. A local hospital official, who was not authorized to speak with the media and spoke under anonymity, gave an even higher number: at least 37 people had been killed and more than 70 were wounded.
Like Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, the Islamic State group is composed of Sunni Muslims and views Shiite Muslims to be apostates that deserve death.
Since August, when the Taliban took power and the U.S. forces were withdrawing, IS has been responsible for a series of bombings that killed many people across the country. In smaller attacks, the group also attacked Taliban fighters.
It would have been the first major attack by IS in southern Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal allowed the Taliban to take control of the country. Recent attacks in the north and east, as well as the Afghan capital, have raised doubts about the Taliban’s ability counter IS.
The Taliban have vowed to restore security and peace after decades of war, and they have given assurances to the U.S. that the country will not be used as a base to launch extremist attacks against other countries.
The Taliban also pledged to protect Afghanistan’s Shiite population, which was being persecuted in the 1990s during Taliban rule.
While both IS and the Taliban adhere to strict Islamic law interpretations, IS is more radical. It also has branches in Syria and Iraq.