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Kabul mosque blast death toll rises to 21: police

#Kabul #mosque #blast #death #toll #rises #police

A blast that pierced a mosque filled with worshipers in the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least 21 people and injured more than two dozen others, police said on Thursday.

The number of bombings across Afghanistan has declined since the Taliban returned to power, but several attacks – many targeting minorities – have rocked the country in recent months, including several claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Wednesday night’s explosion.

“The explosion was caused by explosives placed in the mosque,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told AFP on Thursday.

He said 21 people were killed and 33 injured.

The Italian non-governmental organization Emergency, which runs a hospital in Kabul, said on Wednesday evening that the blast killed 27 people, including three fatalities.

Most of the patients suffered “from grenade and burn injuries,” the email said.

In a later tweet, the hospital said five children were being treated, including a seven-year-old.

Wednesday’s blast came nearly a week after a suicide bombing killed senior Taliban cleric Rahimullah Haqqani, who was killed along with his brother at his madrassa in Kabul.

Haqqani was known for angry speeches against IS, which later claimed the attack.

The group has primarily reached out to minorities such as Shias, Sufis and Sikhs.

The Taliban say they’ve defeated ISIS, but experts say the group remains a key security challenge for hard-line Islamists.

While IS is a Sunni Islamist group like the Taliban, the two are bitter rivals and ideologically far apart.

The blast came as senior Taliban leaders led a large gathering of more than 2,000 religious clergymen and elders in the southern city of Kandahar, the movement’s de-factor power base, on Thursday.

In a statement released to the media, a Taliban spokesman said that “major decisions will be made at the conference.”

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