Kabul: An explosion ripped through a mosque in northern Afghanistan, killing and wounding dozens of people at Friday prayers in Kunduz province.
The cause and the number of casualties were not immediately clear. Hospital sources told AFP news agency that at least 50 people were killed. Meanwhile, a Taliban police official put the casualty toll at 100 dead and wounded, the Associated Press reported.
The blast in Khanabad hit a mosque where members of the Shiite religious minority worship, blowing out the windows and splattering blood onto the floor. People carried bodies in white shrouds out to an ambulance in the street.
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said initial reports pointed to a suicide blast. “Today’s incident is part of a disturbing pattern of violence: 3rd deadly attack this week apparently targeting a religious institution,” it said on Twitter.
The Taliban deployed “a special unit” to the site, its spokesman said. “This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots … a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” Zabihullah Mujahid added.
The Taliban’s leadership has grappled with a string of attacks in Afghanistan since it seized control of the country on the heels of the U.S. military withdrawal, including a bombing at Kabul airport that killed scores of civilians and 13 U.S. troops in August. An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for that explosion.