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Suicide attack on Shiite mosque in Afghanistan kills at least 47

Suicide bombers struck a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan that was packed with worshipers attending Friday prayers, killing and wounding dozens of people.

Suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that was packed with worshipers attending weekly Friday prayers, killing at least 47 people and wounding 70, according to a Taliban official. It was the deadliest day since the U.S. military withdrawal.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province. It came a week after a bombing claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan.

For the record:

7:25 a.m. Oct. 15, 2021An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Imam Barga mosque was attacked. The Fatimiya mosque was attacked.

The sectarian bloodletting has raised fears that Islamic State — an enemy of both the Taliban and the West — is expanding its foothold in Afghanistan.

Hafiz Sayeed, the Taliban’s chief for Kandahar’s department of culture and information, said 47 people had been killed and at least 70 wounded in the attack.

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Murtaza, a worshiper who like many Afghans goes by one name, said he was inside the mosque during the attack and heard four explosions — two outside and two inside. He said Friday prayers at the mosque typically draw hundreds of people.

Another witness, also named Murtaza, was in charge of security at the mosque and said he saw two bombers. He said one detonated explosives outside the gate, and the other was already among the worshipers inside the mosque.

He said the mosque’s security personnel shot another suspected attacker outside.

The terrorist group Islamic State in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, is thought to be responsible for Thursday’s deadly bombing near the airport. Here’s what we know about it.

Video footage from the scene showed bodies scattered across bloodstained carpets, with survivors walking around in a daze or crying out in anguish.

The Shiite Assembly of Ahl al-Bayt, a global religious society, condemned the attack in Kandahar, accusing the security forces in Afghanistan of being “incapable” of addressing such assaults.

Islamic State, which like Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban is made up of Sunni Muslims, views Shiite Muslims as apostates deserving of death. It has claimed a number of deadly bombings across the country since the Taliban seized power in August amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The group has also targeted Taliban fighters in smaller attacks.

If the attack was carried out by Islamic State, it would be the first major assault by the group in southern Afghanistan since the U.S. departure enabled the Taliban to consolidate its control of the country. Recent attacks in the north, the east and the Afghan capital, Kabul, have cast doubt on the Taliban’s ability to counter the threat posed by Islamic State.

Neighboring Pakistan, which has urged world leaders to work with the ruling Taliban, condemned the “despicable attacks on places of worship” in a statement from its foreign ministry.

The Taliban has pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war and has given the U.S. assurances that it will not allow the country to be used as a base for launching extremist attacks in other countries.

The Taliban has also pledged to protect Afghanistan’s Shiite minority, which was persecuted during the last period of Taliban rule, in the 1990s.

Both the Taliban and Islamic State adhere to a rigid interpretation of Islamic law, but the latter is far more radical, with better-known branches in Iraq and Syria.

And while the Taliban says it is creating an Islamic state in Afghanistan, within the borders of that country, Islamic State says it is a global caliphate that it insists all Muslims must support. It is contemptuous of the Taliban’s nationalist goals and doesn’t recognize it as a pure Islamic movement.

Akhgar reported from Istanbul.


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