KABUL -- A suicide bomber posing as a shepherd attempted to attack a Shia mosque in Kabul Friday (September 29), but security forces stopped him before he could reach his target, security officials said.
The bomber blew himself up 140 metres from Hussainia mosque in Kabul, according to Gen. Salim Almas, chief of Kabul's Criminal Investigation Department.
"The bomber was grazing a herd of sheep, and before reaching his target he detonated himself," he told AFP.
The blast killed six people and wounded at least 20 others, police and health officials said.
Kabul's Emergency Hospital tweeted that it had received 33 casualties including six children.
Three suspects have been arrested, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) militants have repeatedly targeted Afghanistan's minority Shia community.
The Taliban quickly denied responsibility; however, the militant group is known for distancing itself from attacks involving civilian casualties.
Afghanistan has trained and armed more than 500 civilians to help protect Shia mosques during the holy month of Muharram.
Mass bloodshed thwarted
The security measures prevented mass casualties, said an eyewitness.
"Two or three suicide bombers posing as shepherds tried to come close to the mosque, pretending they had brought sheep for sacrifice, but luckily they were identified at the first checkpoint," Jawad, the eyewitness and a Kabul resident, told Salaam Times.
"One of them detonated his explosives, while another suspect was arrested following the attack," he said.
"If there hadn't been any security in the area, the attackers would have carried out the attack inside the mosque, in which case hundreds would have been killed," another Kabul resident told Salaam Times.
The suicide bomber apparently wanted to reach the mosque while worshippers were still inside the prayer hall.
The attack came on the eve of Ashura, the most important Shia observance during the month of Muharram.
[Sulaiman from Kabul contributed to this report.]