KABUL, Afghanistan (AP): A blast went off Friday at a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan, killing or wounding at least 100 people, a Taliban police official said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place in Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but militants from the Islamic State group have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.
Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, said that the “majority of them have been killed,” in reference to the victims. He said the attack may have been carried out by a suicide bomber who had mingled among the worshipers inside the mosque.
“I assure our Shiite brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Obaida said, adding that an investigation was underway.
If confirmed, a death toll of dozens would be the highest since U.S. and NATO forces left Afghanistan at the end of August and the Taliban took control of the country. The Taliban have been targeted in a series of deadly attacks by rival IS militants, including shooting ambushes and an explosion at a mosque in the capital of Kabul.
The Kunduz explosion went off during the weekly Friday prayer service at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque. The Friday noon prayer is the highlight of the Muslim religious week, and mosques are typically crowded. Witness Ali Reza said he was praying at the time of the explosion and reported seeing many casualties.