A bomb ripped through a mosque filled with Shia Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing or injuring at least 100 people, according to a Taliban police officer.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bomb, which occurred in Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but Islamic State terrorists have a long history of assaulting Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
Body parts were seen surrounded by rubble inside the mosque, which is utilised by the minority Shia Muslim population.
“We have received more than 100 wounded patients and over 100 dead bodies, but the number will change. We are still receiving more people,” said a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital worker, who did not want to be named.
Interior ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti confirmed the blast, without giving details.
Local residents said the blast hit a Shia mosque during Friday prayers, the most important of the week.
“This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots … as a result of which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although the Islamic State organisation, the Taliban’s fiercest enemy, has recently claimed similar crimes.
Residents of Kunduz, the capital of the same-named province, told AFP that the bomb occurred during Friday prayers, the most significant day of the week for Muslims.
Local businessman Zalmai Alokzai, who hurried to Kunduz Provincial Hospital to see whether physicians needed blood donations, recounted horrible images.
“I saw several dead bodies,” he claimed.
“Ambulances were going to the event location to transport the deceased.”
Shia Muslims, who are frequently targeted by Sunni extremists, have been subjected to some of Afghanistan’s most brutal attacks, with rallies destroyed, hospitals assaulted, and commuters ambushed.
Shias account for about 20% of the Afghan population.
Many of them are Hazara, an ethnic minority that has been oppressed for decades in Afghanistan.
(With inputs from agencies)