At least 11 people have been killed by a bomb blast at a Shi’ite mosque in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday (April 21), a health official said.
Another explosion caused at least 11 more casualties in Kunduz, another northern Afghan city, according to a provincial health official.
The Islamic State, in a statement on the group’s Telegram channel, claimed responsibility for the Mazar-e-Sharif attack.
Both explosions occurred just two days after blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shi’ite Hazara area in western Kabul, which killed at least six, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“A blast happened in second district inside a Shi’ite mosque,” Mohammad Asif Wazeri, the spokesman for the Taliban commander in Mazar-e-Sharif, told Reuters.
Zia Zendani, the spokesman for the provincial health authority, said 11 people had been killed and 32 wounded in the blast.
The Shi’ite community, a religious minority in Afghanistan, is frequently targeted by Sunni militant groups, including the Islamic State.
Hospitals in Kunduz had received 11 killed or wounded people in a separate explosion, according to Najeebullah Sahel, from Kunduz’s provincial health authority.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said a roadside blast had targeted a van of military mechanics in Kunduz, and said school students were among the wounded.
He added that another roadside blast in the capital, Kabul, had wounded three, including a child.
Richard Bennett, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan on human rights, condemned the blasts.
“Today, more explosions rock Afghanistan… systematic targeted attacks on crowded schools and mosques calls for immediate investigation, accountability and an end to human rights violations,” he said in a tweet.
A resident of Mazar-e-Sharif said she was shopping with her sister in a nearby market when she heard a large explosion and saw smoke rising from the area around the mosque.
“The glass of the shops was broken and it was very crowded and everyone started to run,” the woman, who declined to be named, said.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August, but international officials and analysts say the risk of a resurgence in militancy remains and the Islamic State militant group has claimed several attacks. (Source: The Straits Times)