Kansas City, Missouri 2021-10-08 13:34:28 –
Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) —Friday, an explosion at a mosque full of Shiite Muslim worshipers in northern Afghanistan, a recent security challenge to the Taliban, at least 46 as they transition from rebellion to rule People were killed and dozens were injured.
The explosion broke through a mosque in the city of Kunduz during a noon prayer, a highlight of Islamic Religious Week. It blew windows, burned the ceiling, scattered debris, and twisted metal across the floor. The rescuer carried his body on a stretcher and a blanket. Blood stains covered the front stage.
Local resident Husseidad Rezai said he hurried to the mosque when he heard the explosion just as the prayers began. “I came looking for relatives, the mosque was full,” he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what the Kunduz police said could be a suicide bomber. However, militants from local Islamic State affiliates have a long history of attacking Afghan minorities and religious minorities.
The worshipers for Friday were Hazara, who have long suffered double discrimination as a minority and as a follower of Shiite Islam in the majority of Sunni countries.
Islamic State groups have been lagging behind the rise in attacks, including attacks on the Taliban, since US and NATO troops departed from Afghanistan at the end of August. The Taliban, which took control of the country with the withdrawal of IS and foreign troops, is a strategic rival. IS militants targeted the Taliban’s position and sought to recruit members from their ranks.
In the past, the Taliban have been able to contain the IS threat in parallel with US and Afghanistan airstrikes. Without these, it is unclear whether the Taliban can suppress what appears to be an expanding IS footprint. The militants were once trapped in the east, but new attacks invaded Kabul’s capital and other states.
This comes at a crucial moment when the Taliban seek to strengthen their power and turn their guerrilla fighters into structured police and security forces. However, while the group attempts to project an air of authority through reports of attacks and arrests of IS members, it is unclear whether it is capable of protecting soft targets, including religious institutions.
In Kunduz, police officials were still picking up works at Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque on Friday.
Citing a preliminary report, Dost Mohammad Obida, deputy Taliban police chief in Kunduz, said he believed that more than 100 people were killed or injured, with more dead than injured.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told The Associated Press hours after the first statement that 46 worshipers were killed in the blast and 143 were injured. He said investigations were underway to determine the perpetrators.
The death toll of 46 people has been the highest in the attack since foreign troops left Afghanistan.
A UN mission in Afghanistan has accused the attack of being “part of a disturbing pattern of violence” targeting religious institutions.
Deputy police chief Obida has promised to protect a minority in the state. “I assure the Shiite brothers that the Taliban are ready to secure them,” he said.
Prominent Shiite priest Saeed Hussein Arimi Barki condemned the attack and called on the Taliban to provide security to the Shiites in Afghanistan. “Government security forces have collected the weapons provided for the security of the place of worship and are hoping to provide security to the mosque,” he said.
At least the new tone struck by the Taliban in Kunduz contrasts with the well-documented history of Taliban fighters who have committed a series of atrocities against minorities, including the Hazara. The Taliban now feel the weight of governance and have adopted IS-like tactics during the 20-year rebellion, including suicide bombings and ambush shooting.
And they haven’t stopped attacking the Hazara.
Earlier this week, the Taliban illegally killed 13 Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, in Da’ikundi after the surrender of former government security forces members, Amnesty International reported.
In Kunduz, Hazaras make up about 6% of the state’s population of about 1 million. The state also has a large population of Uzbeks targeted for recruitment by the IS, which is closely linked to the Uzbek militant Islamic movement.
The attack on Friday was the third attack targeting a place of worship or a religious study site in a week.
The IS also includes the horrific August 26 bombing that killed at least 169 Afghanistan and 13 U.S. military personnel outside Kabul Airport on the final day of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Claimed two deadly bombings in Kabul.
IS also claimed a bombing that killed at least five civilians outside Kabul’s Eidgar Mosque on Sunday. Another attack on Madrasa, a religious school in Khost, was not claimed on Wednesday.
If Friday’s attack was alleged by the IS, it would also be of concern to Afghanistan’s North Central Asian neighbors and Russia, which has been courting the Taliban for years as an ally against the creeping IS in the region.
Akhgar reported from Istanbul. Islamabad Associated Press author Kathy Gannon contributed to this report.
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