A suicide bomber has killed at least 50 people at a mosque in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Officials say it was the deadliest attack since US troops withdrew from Afghanistan.
In this mosque named Saeed Abad in Kunduz, people from the minority Shia community used to offer prayers. Bodies are seen scattered inside the mosque.
Hundreds of people were injured in the bombing in the northern city.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Sunni Muslim extremists, including a local Islamic State group, have attacked Shiites in the past.
Radical Sunnis view Shiites as infidels.
IS-K, a regional group affiliated with the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, is strongly opposed to Taliban rule in the country. IS has recently carried out a number of bombings, mainly in the eastern part of the country.
A local businessman, Jalmai Alokzai, rushed to the hospital shortly after the incident to find out if the doctors needed donated blood. He said he saw a chaotic scene there.
“Ambulances are rushing to the scene and retrieving the bodies,” he told AFP.
Huge threat to the Taliban
The BBC’s Sikandar Kirmani says that although no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the attack has left a lasting impression on IS. The group carried out a devastating attack targeting Kabul airport in August.
He said the group had carried out a number of attacks in the past targeting Afghanistan’s minority Shia community, including bombing mosques, sports clubs and schools. IS has also stepped up attacks against the Taliban in recent weeks.
IS carried out an attack targeting a janaza in Kabul on Sunday, attended by several top Taliban leaders. He also said that there were several small-scale attacks in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces in the east. Kirmani reports. These two provinces were previously strongholds of IS.
“If IS continues its attack on Friday, it is a clear and worrying sign that the group is stepping up its activities in the north of the country,” he said. Kirmani reports.
The Taliban say they have arrested dozens of IS members and are suspected of killing others suspected of belonging to the group. However, he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat ISIS. Kirmani.
Many Afghans hoped that a more peaceful regime would be established after the Taliban took power, despite the advent of authoritarian rule. But Sikandar Kirmani says the Taliban’s promise to improve security is a major threat to IS.
The Taliban took control of the country in August after foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan under an agreement between the United States and the Taliban.
Two decades earlier, in 2001, US troops overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan.