ISIS claims responsibility for suicide attack on Shia mosque in Baghlan

By Muhammad Qasem

'The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) on October 13, 2023, claimed responsibility for a suicide attack inside a Shia mosque in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province. The attack was carried out during Friday's prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque, killing at least seven worshippers and wounding at least 17 others, according to local officials. [Courtesy of Nasrullah Amini]

BAGHLAN -- "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) on Friday (October 13) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack inside a Shia mosque in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province.

The attack was carried out during Friday's prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque, killing at least seven worshippers and wounding at least 17 others, according to local officials.

Among the injured were the imam and a local Shia leader.

The attacker "reached the center of the gathering ... and then blew up his explosive belt", AFP reported, quoting a statement by Amaq, the propaganda agency of ISIS's Khorasan branch (ISIS-K).

A screenshot from a Salaam Times video shows Imam Zaman mosque in Baghlan province after the attack on October 14.

A screenshot from a Salaam Times video shows Imam Zaman mosque in Baghlan province after the attack on October 14.

An anonymous source at Baghlan Provincial Hospital put the tally higher, saying 19 bodies and 40 wounded patients had been brought to the facility so far.

Local resident Abdul Hamid said he heard a "terrible sound" as the bomb detonated.

"After the explosion, a large number of martyrs and injured people were transferred to the hospital," AFP quoted Hamid as saying.

"About 300 people were praying in the mosque, and I heard a terrible sound. I didn't know what happened after that. When I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital," Zahir Shah, 45, who was wounded, told Salaam Times.

"Whatever group has carried out this cowardly attack, may God punish them for killing innocent people on this blessed day," he said.

Sayed Abbas Ahadi, 41, found out that one of his cousins, recently engaged, was among those killed.

"My cousin was a student in his third year at the Faculty of Economics at Hakim Sanayee University in Baghlan. He had recently become engaged to the girl he loved, but all his dreams were shattered," Ahadi said.

"He was a hardworking man, dedicating half of his day to studying and the other half to making a living and supporting his family," he said.

Widespread condemnation

US, United Nations and former Afghan officials denounced the attack on Friday's worshippers.

"I condemn this act of terrorism, which is against all human and Islamic principles and values, in the strongest terms and I pray for the martyrs of this tragic incident," former President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

"I strongly condemn this inhumane and un-Islamic act and emphasize that committing such acts is not acceptable and unforgivable in any religion," former High Council for National Reconciliation chairman Abdullah Abdullah said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Distressed to hear of the wounding & killing of worshippers at the Pule Khumri Shia Mosque. Attacks against the Shia community are a threat to the diversity that defines Afghanistan," Rina Amiri, the US special envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights, said in a tweet.

"My deepest condolences to the families. This brutality must end," Amiri added.

"I condemn today's attack killing dozens of #Shia worshippers at a mosque in Pul-e Khumri #Baghlan and claimed by ISKP [ISIS-K]," UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett also said on X.

"My condolences to the victims & their families. Prevention, protection & accountability are needed for #Afghanistan['s] Shia population that continues to be targeted."

No justification

Mohammad Hassan Rahmani, a 64-year-old tribal elder in Pul-e-Khumri city and a relative of one of the victims, also denounced the atrocity.

Rahmani emphasized the need for government measures to ensure the safety of religious and sacred places.

"Those who were killed, almost all of them had wives and children, and unfortunately, their families were left without a breadwinner," he said.

Taking a human life is prohibited in all religions, said Mawlawi Mohammad Yasin Mehdiyaar, a Shia religious scholar in Baghlan province who also condemned the attack.

"The act of killing a human being, especially a Muslim in prayer, can find no justification or forgiveness in any way," he said.

The increase in ISIS activity in northern Afghanistan is concerning, said Syed Reza Masoumi, a political affairs analyst from Baghlan who now lives in Kabul.

"Although the current government repeatedly talks about curbing ISIS in the country, it looks like ISIS is trying to recruit more people in northern Afghanistan to carry out more attacks in the future," he said.

"For a while, there was a misconception that ISIS had been defeated in Afghanistan, but this group operates clandestinely. If their attacks are not effectively prevented, they could create insecurity and even pose a threat to nations worldwide," he added.

Sher Ahmad Burhani, a spokesperson for Baghlan police, said that they are working day and night to improve security in the province.

"We assure our people that such incidents will not happen again. Security forces have been deployed throughout the region to deter any potential future attacks," he said.

Do you like this article?

3 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

Launching explosions in a mosque has nothing to to do with Islam and being Muslim. We Afghan people's life went with many troubles. I have 42 years. When we were children, and we used to go to school, I was very much afraid that an explosion will occur at our school. That is why, our mother was worried to hear the news of death or injury of us. Now that I am almost old man, I go to the mosque to worship God, but I am still not safe. I go to the mosque with fear. As long as I not return back home from the mosque, our family is thinking about me. This was our life that we spent in Afghanistan. I am 42 years old, but no day we did not go to school, to the city, or to the mosque without fear. Exploding the mosque, exploding the university, exploding the school, blowing up the bridge, laying mines on the road, all these things are done for the sake of a few money in Afghanistan, not for the sake of religion. Afghans should not listen to the talks of the enemies of Islam. They should not destroy the homeland in the name of religion. This is our common home. No matter what religion we Afghans belong to, this homeland is common to all of us. We Afghans can put out this fire of war in our homeland.


The ISIS group has been given this project in order to create strong differences between Shia and Sunni, so that these two religious groups fight each other in Afghanistan until the end of life, but thanks to God, the Shia brother understood the point, that this is the plan of the enemy and that this enemy is shared by Sunnis and Shias. Baghlan incident is heartbreaking. I am deeply saddened by it. It has been a long time since we were saddened by the suicide attack and explosion. Humans are not safe from them even in God's house [mosque]. Can we address them as Muslims? Can we call them Muslims? No, never!


Shah Ghazi Amanullah Khan was young; he was the king of Afghanistan and got independence for the people of Afghanistan in 1919. He wanted Afghans to become modern people, to get an education, to work, to have factories, to have hospitals, to have access to equipped and modern schools and universities, and to have all the facilities of life to fulfill their needs, but the British could not tolerate it. The spies and vicious people forced him to leave his country, and he finally went to Italy. He spent his life there. His children were born during this stay. His daughter Hindia, who is said to have been born while staying there, died yesterday at 95 in exile. God bless her. She was the last sign of Ghazi Amanullah Khan. She also died and chose to serve the preacher of truth. If we look at the life of our Afghans, it is full of suffering and hardships, and Ghazi, the winner of our independence, spent the same life of misery. Mrs. Hindia died at 95, carrying with her the desire for peace in Afghanistan. The same will happen if we do not become human beings or recognize each other as Afghans. We will die this way and with a desire for a single day of peace in our motherland. Daesh, Taliban, Republicans... we are all of them. Even if 10% of them are spies, if 90 people get together and have a strong feeling of patriotism, I'm confident that we can eliminate them.