Bomb attack at mosque and school in Afghanistan kills dozens

Since taking power last August, Taliban have battled with terror group Isis-K

A bombing at a mosque and religious school in northern Afghanistan on Friday killed at least 33 people, including students of a religious school, a Taliban official has said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's deputy culture and information minister, said the bombing in the town of Imam Saheb, in Kunduz Province, also wounded another 43 people, many of them students.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but an Afghan affiliate to the Islamic State terror group on Friday claimed a series of bombings that happened a day earlier, the worst of which was an attack on a Shia mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif that killed at least 12 Shia Muslim worshippers and wounded scores more.

Earlier, the Kunduz provincial police spokesman put the death toll at the mosque and madrassa compound in Imam Saheb at two dead and six injured.


Mr Mujahid later tweeted the higher casualty numbers, tweeting “We condemn this crime . . . and express our deepest condolences to the victims.”

Friday’s bombing is the latest in a series of deadly attacks across Afghanistan.

Since sweeping to power last August, the Taliban have been battling the Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province or Isis-K, which is proving to be an intractable security challenge for Afghanistan’s religiously driven government.

Suspected hideouts

Last November, the Taliban’s intelligence unit carried out sweeping attacks on suspected Isis-K hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province.

In a statement on Friday, Isis-K said the explosive device that devastated Mazar-e-Sharif’s Sai Doken mosque was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshippers. As they knelt in prayer, it exploded.

“When the mosque was filled with prayers, the explosives were detonated remotely,” the terror group’s statement said, claiming that 100 people were injured.

The Taliban say they have arrested a former Isis-K leader in northern Balkh province, of which Mazar-e-Sharif is the capital.

Zabihullah Noorani, information and culture department chief in Balkh province, said Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was arrested in connection with Thursday's mosque attack.

Isis-K had been relatively inactive in Afghanistan since last November, but in recent weeks has stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan, taking aim at Shia Muslim communities reviled by Sunni radicals.

Earlier this month, two bombs exploded in Kabul’s Shia neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing at least seven students and wounding several others.

Brutal bombing

Isis-K established its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan in 2014 and has been blamed for some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan, including an assault on a maternity hospital and at a school that killed more than 80 girls in 2021, months before the Taliban took power.

Isis-K also took responsibility for a brutal bombing outside the Kabul International Airport in August 2021 that killed more than 160 Afghans who had been pushing to enter the airport to flee the country.

Thirteen US military personnel also were killed as they oversaw America’s final withdrawal and the end of its 20-year war in Afghanistan.

In recent months, Isis-K has also stepped up attacks in Pakistan, targeting a Shia mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar in March. More than 65 worshippers were killed.

The upstart affiliate has also claimed several deadly attacks against Pakistan’s military.

In Pakistan's central Punjab city of Faisalabad, the local police on Thursday issued a threat warning, saying "it has been learned that Isis-K has planned to carry out terrorist activities in Faisalabad", advising people to "exercise extreme vigilance". The police warning did not elaborate. – AP