Explosion kills dozens during Friday prayers at Nangarhar mosque

Salaam Times


A volunteer carries an injured youth to hospital, following a bomb blast in Haska Mina District, Nangarhar Province, October 18. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

KABUL -- At least 62 worshippers were killed and dozens wounded by a blast inside an Afghan mosque during Friday (October 18) prayers, officials said, a day after the United Nations (UN) said violence in the country had reached "unacceptable" levels.

The explosion, which witnesses said collapsed the mosque's roof, took place in Nangarhar Province and wounded nearly 60 people, said provincial governor's spokesman Ataullah Khogyani.

The dead were "all worshippers" in the blast in Haska Mina District, roughly 50km from the provincial capital of Jalalabad, said Khogyani.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban denied being behind the bombing.

Both the Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) are active in Nangarhar.

Afghan officials reacted with outrage.

"The Mosque bombing in Nangarhar Province once again shows the terrorists’ utter disregard for human life & our faith," tweeted Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. "We pray for the martyrs & injured but vow to punish the culprits as terrorists & spoilers will not be absolved of responsibility for such inhumane crimes."

'Unprecedented' civilian casualties in 3rd quarter

The blast came after the UN released a new report on Thursday saying an "unprecedented" number of civilians were killed or wounded in Afghanistan from July to September.

The figures -- 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured from July 1 until September 30 -- represent a 42% increase compared to the same time period last year.

The UN mostly blamed "anti-government elements" such as the Taliban for the spike.

Some recent examples of Taliban violence against civilians include the following:

On October 16, the Taliban detonated a truck bomb near a madrassa in Laghman province, killing and wounding children studying the Koran.

On September 16, a Taliban car-bomb hit the Sultan Malakhi Tokhi civilian hospital in Qalat City, Zabul Province, killing 39 people and wounding 184 others.

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