South Asia

Kabul mosque bombing death toll rises to 21, Taliban says

The bombing during Wednesday’s evening prayers at a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has left 21 people dead and 33 wounded, according to the latest update provided by a Taliban police spokesperson.

The deadly explosion occurred when dozens of people were praying at the Siddiquiya Mosque in the city’s northern Kher Khanna neighbourhood, but no death figures were announced immediately.

On Thursday, Khalid Zadran, the spokesperson for Kabul’s Taliban police chief confirmed 21 deaths in the attack with 33 people injured.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the explosion and vowed that the “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished”.

Several children were also among those wounded, including a 7-year-old, Emergency7 charity hospital in Kabul said in a statement.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, the latest to hit the country in the year since the Taliban seized power.

Associated Press reported quoting an unnamed eyewitness that the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber.

The Islamic State (IS) group’s local affiliate has stepped up attacks targeting the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents’ takeover last August as US and NATO troops began their withdrawal from the country.

Last week, the extremists claimed responsibility for killing a prominent Taliban cleric at his religious centre in Kabul.

Qyaamuddin, one of the eyewitnesses of the incident on Wednesday, told AP that the blast was so powerful, he believed at least two dozen people may have been killed.

“It was evening prayer time, and I was attending the prayer with others, when the explosion happened,” Mr Qyaamuddin said.

The one-year-old Taliban government is struggling on several fronts with many extremist groups turning against them, the country’s funding frozen and the international sanctions still in place. Afghanistan is also going through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Additional reporting by agencies

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