KABUL -- At least 16 people were killed by bomb blasts Thursday (April 21) -- including 12 at a Shia mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif claimed by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
"The soldiers of the caliphate managed to get a booby-trapped bag" inside the mosque, detonating it from afar after it was packed with worshippers, the group said in a statement.
Separately, in Kunduz, at least four people were killed and 18 wounded by a blast that police spokesman Obaidullah Abedi, speaking to AFP, attributed to a bicycle bomb targeting a vehicle carrying mechanics.
Social media users posted grisly images of victims being carried to hospital from Seh Dokan mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif.
The images, which could not be independently verified, showed a scene littered with broken glass.
"Blood and fear are everywhere," Ahmad Zia Zindani, spokesman for the Balkh provincial public health department, told AFP, adding that "people were screaming" while seeking news of their relatives at the hospital.
Twelve people were killed in the blast and 58 wounded -- including 32 in serious condition, he said.
"Relatives of victims were arriving at city hospitals looking for their near and dear ones. Many residents were also coming to donate blood," Zindani said.
Just on Monday (April 18), ISIS claimed a rocket attack against Uzbekistan from neighbouring Afghanistan, the first such bombardment of the Central Asian nation by the group.
2nd anti-Shia attack this week
This is the second attack on a Shia target this week, after multiple explosions Tuesday killed at least six people and wounded 24 in Kabul.
Eyewitnesses said the first explosion happened near Mumtaz Tuition Centre and was followed by two back-to-back explosions close to Abdul Rahim Shahid High School in Dasht-e-Barchi, a predominantly Shia Hazara neighbourhood.
No group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack.
The Shia Hazara community, which makes up 10-20% of Afghanistan's 38 million people, has long been the target of terrorist acts -- most carried out by ISIS.
ISIS-K's deadly record
ISIS has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.
On October 8, a suicide bomber from ISIS's Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) targeted a mosque in Kunduz, killing about 100 Shia Muslims and injuring scores of others, according to locals.
In May last year at least 85 people -- mainly female students -- were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood.
No group claimed responsibility for that massacre, but in October 2020 ISIS admitted a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24 people, including students.