An explosion ripped through a Shi’ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 50, according to sources at the local Mirwais hospital.
The blast went off during Friday prayers, usually attended by large crowds. Pictures and videos shared on social media showed a bloody scene inside the mosque, with bodies and body parts strewn about and worshippers trying to rescue the wounded.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Bilal Karimi, confirmed to VOA that the bomb attack in Kandahar “killed and injured a number of compatriots.” He said an investigation into the violence is ongoing “to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The explosion came a week after a Friday-prayer attack in another Afghan city, Kunduz, left more than 50 dead. That attack was claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province, the local branch of the Islamic State group. ISKP had claimed a Uyghur carried out the Kunduz attack.
In an interview with VOA earlier this week, Taliban Deputy Information Minister Zabihulah Mujahid denied that IS was a serious threat, despite multiple attacks, including one on a gathering for the last rituals of Mujahid’s own mother in Kabul.
He said the only reason why ISKP had managed to carry out attacks in recent weeks was that the Taliban broke open many jails when it took over the country, allowing ISKP facilitators to escape.
“Our forces are trying to find its roots. In the last week-and-a-half we have arrested several people belonging to IS and have destroyed several of their safe houses. We have neutralized several of their attacks,” Mujahid said.
ISKP claimed a Uyghur had carried out the Kunduz attack but Mujahid said China had not discussed the issue with the Taliban.
This is the fourth high-profile attack IS Khorasan has carried out since August 15, the day the Taliban walked into Kabul.
The group also claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on Kabul airport while thousands of Afghans who were fleeing from the Taliban were being evacuated. That attack killed nearly 100 Afghans and 13 American service personnel.
VOA’s Ayaz Gul contributed to this report.