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Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly attack inside Shiite mosque in Afghanistan

Afghan security officers stand guard in front of a Shiite mosque after a suicide bomb blast killed dozens in Kabul on Monday.
Afghan security officers stand guard in front of a Shiite mosque after a suicide bomb blast killed dozens in Kabul on Monday.
(Jawad Jalili / European Pressphoto Agency)

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Monday in a Shiite Muslim mosque in Afghanistan’s capital that officials said killed at least 28 people and wounded dozens.

The bomber was reportedly on foot when he detonated an explosives-laden vest in the Baqir-ul Uloom mosque in western Kabul, where members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority worship.

At least 35 people were injured, Kabul police officials said.

Islamic State, the Iraq- and Syria-based militant group that has claimed a series of deadly attacks in South Asia, issued a statement via its Amaq news agency saying it was responsible for the bombing, the SITE Intelligence Group reported. The radical Sunni group views Shiites as apostates.

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Sulaiman Ferozi, 22, who was inside the mosque, said a religious scholar was concluding an address when the blast shook the building.

“I was sitting behind a column and when I opened my eyes a few seconds later there was dust everywhere,” Ferozi said. “People were dying.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned “the enemies of Afghanistan [who] are trying to divide people by attacking holy and religious targets.”

Amnesty International called on the Afghan government to investigate the attack and do more to safeguard religious minorities.

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“They have a duty to take effective measures to protect Shia Muslims from attacks and end impunity for previous abuses against the Shia community,” the group’s South Asia director, Champa Patel, said in a statement.

Shiites make up approximately 15% of Afghanistan’s 30 million people. They suffered grave discrimination during Taliban rule in the late 1990s but have enjoyed greater rights and visibility since the U.S.-led military invasion in 2001.

Over the last year, Islamic State has established a network of loyalists in Afghanistan who have opened a new challenge for the U.S.-backed government, which is already struggling to hold onto territory against the Taliban insurgency.

Last week, Islamic State in Khorasan — as the group’s South Asia branch is known — said it was behind an attack on an Afghan security team that killed seven people in Kabul. In October, the group claimed to have kidnapped and killed 26 civilians, including children, in central Afghanistan.

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Faizy is a special correspondent. Staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report from Mumbai, India.

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UPDATES:

10:45 a.m.: This article has been updated to indicate the bomber was in the mosque.

7 a.m. This article was updated throughout with Times reporting.

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3:30 a.m.: This article was updated with new death and injury tolls and additional background.

This article was originally published at 1:10 a.m.


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