Suicide bombers attacked a Shiite Mosque in southern Afghanistan that was packed with worshipers attending weekly Friday prayers, killing at least 47 people and wounding 70, according to a Taliban official. It was the deadliest day since the U.S. military withdrawal.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province. It came a week after a bombing claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan. Hafiz Sayeed, the Taliban’s chief for Kandahar’s department of culture and information, said 47 people had been killed and at least 70 wounded in the attack.
Murtaza, a worshiper who like many Afghans goes by one name, said he was inside the mosque during the attack and reported four explosions: two outside and two inside. He said Friday prayers at the mosque typically draw hundreds of people. Another witness, also named Murtaza, was in charge of security at the mosque and said he saw two bombers. He said one detonated explosives outside the gate, and the other was already among the worshippers inside the mosque.
The Shiite Assembly of Ahl al-Bayt, a global religious society, condemned the attack in Kandahar, accusing the security forces in Afghanistan of being “incapable” of addressing such assaults. Neighboring Pakistan, which has urged world leaders to work with the ruling Taliban, condemned the “despicable attacks on places of worship” in a statement from its foreign ministry.
The Taliban have pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war and have also given the U.S. assurances that they will not allow the country to be used as a base for launching extremist attacks on other countries. The Taliban have also pledged to protect Afghanistan’s Shiite minority, which was persecuted during the last period of Taliban rule, in the 1990s.