At least five deaths reported in bombing of mosque in Kabul
At least five civilians were killed in a bomb blast outside a Kabul mosque Sunday, a Taliban official said. It was the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since U.S. forces left at the end of August.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic State extremists who have stepped up attacks on the Taliban in recent weeks, particularly in an Islamic State stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.
An apparent roadside bomb went off at the gate of the sprawling Eid Gah Mosque in Kabul when a memorial service was being held for the mother of chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. Five people were killed, said Qari Saeed Khosti, spokesman of the Interior Ministry.
The explosion underscored the growing challenges the Taliban faces just weeks after it took control of Afghanistan in a blitz campaign, culminating in its takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15.
Restless Kabul residents ponder what remains and what changes in the Afghan capital after more than a month of Taliban rule.
During its 20-year insurgency, the Taliban itself has frequently carried out bombing and shooting attacks, but is now faced with trying to contain rival militants using the same methods. The growing security challenges come at a time of an economic meltdown, as the Taliban struggles to run the country without the massive foreign aid given to the U.S.-backed government it toppled.
Three suspects were arrested in Sunday’s explosion, said Bilal Karimi, a Taliban spokesman. He said Taliban fighters were not harmed.
Mohammad Israil, a Kabul resident, said he heard “a loud sound” and saw people running away.
An Italian-funded emergency hospital in Kabul tweeted it had received four people wounded in the blast.
The area around the mosque was cordoned off by the Taliban, which maintained a heavy security presence. Later in the afternoon the site was cleaned. The only signs of the blast was slight damage to the ornamental arch by the entrance gate.
Islamic State militants have stepped up attacks against the Taliban since its mid-August takeover, signaling a widening conflict between them.
Islamic State maintains a strong presence in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it has claimed responsibility for several killings in the provincial capital, Jalalabad.
In late August, an Islamic State suicide bomber targeted American evacuation efforts at Kabul’s international airport. The blast killed about 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members and was one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years.
Attacks in Kabul after the Taliban takeover have been rare, but in recent weeks Islamic State has shown signs it is expanding its footprint beyond the east and closer toward the capital.
On Friday, Taliban fighters raided an Islamic State hide-out just north of Kabul in Parwan province. The raid came after an Islamic State roadside bomb wounded four Taliban fighters in the area.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.