A powerful blast has hit a mosque in western Kabul during prayers, killing at least 10 and wounding 20, officials said, amid a spate of attacks on Afghan places of worship and civilian targets during the holy month of Ramadan.
Besmullah Habib, deputy spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, said the blast on Friday hit the Khalifa Aga Gul Jan Mosque in western Kabul at about 2pm local time (10:00 GMT).
Hundreds of worshippers had gathered for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan and the mosque was packed, local residents told the Reuters news agency – fearing the casualty toll could rise further.
The Taliban-appointed interior ministry spokesman, Mohammad Nafi Takor, could not provide more details and Taliban security men cordoned off the area. The source of the explosion was not immediately known and no one has claimed responsibility for the blast.
One man, who was inside the mosque at the time, told Reuters a huge blast tore through the building during prayers, the explosion burning his feet and hands. Mohammad Sabir, a resident in the area, said he had seen people being loaded into ambulances after the explosion.
“The blast was very loud, I thought my eardrums were cracked,” he said.
A nurse at a nearby hospital who declined to be named said they had received several injured people in critical condition from the attack.
Dozens of Afghan civilians have been killed in recent weeks in blasts, some of which have been claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have said that they have secured the country since taking power last August and largely eliminated the ISIL’s local offshoot, but international officials and analysts said the risk of a resurgence in attacks remains.
Many of the attacks have targeted the Shia religious minority. Sunni mosques have also been attacked.
Bombs exploded on two passenger vans carrying Shia Muslims in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Thursday, killing at least nine people. Last Friday, a blast tore through a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers in the city of Kunduz, killing 33 people.
The latest attack came on Friday, the Islamic holy day – the last in the month of Ramadan, during which most Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and before the religious holiday of Eid next week.
Source: Al Jazeera MSN