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Suicide bombers disguised in burkas kill 29 in attack on Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan

Suicide bombers disguised in burkas kill 29 in attack on Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan
Security forces monitor a road near a mosque attacked by suicide bombers in Paktia, Afghanistan, on Friday. (Ahmadullah Ahmadi / EPA-Shutterstock)

Two suicide bombers disguised in women’s full-length burkas blew themselves up inside a Shiite Muslim mosque filled with worshipers gathered for afternoon prayer, killing 29 people and wounding 81, officials said Friday.

The attack in eastern Afghanistan’s city of Gardez took place at 1:30 p.m., the most crowded prayer time of the week, said Abdullah Hasrat, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province.

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A member of the provincial council, Taj Mohammad Mangal, said that the death toll could rise as many of the wounded were in critical condition in nearby hospitals.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but supporters of the Sunni extremist group Islamic State have attacked members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority many times in recent years.

Sardar Wali Sabawoon, a Paktia police spokesman, said the assailants entered the mosque after shooting two men guarding the entrance.

He said the bombers’ suicide vests could have escaped detection because they were wearing the loose-fitting burkas typically worn by Afghan women.

The office of President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the bombing, saying, “These kinds of attacks cannot create religious division.”

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