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Explosion strikes Afghan mosque during prayers

At least 16 people are dead and 32 injured after an explosion tore through a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the Afghan city of Kandahar.

Pictures from inside Bibi Fatima mosque show shattered windows and bodies lying on the ground and other worshippers trying to help.

The explosion’s cause is not yet clear but a suicide bombing is suspected.

One witness told AFP he heard three blasts – one at the main door, another where worshippers wash, and a third.

Friday prayers are the busiest congregation of the week, and the mosque was full of people at the time. At least 15 ambulances were at the scene afterwards, an AFP journalist said.

Taliban special forces have secured the site and have asked people to donate blood to help the victims, Reuters reports.

BBC Afghanistan correspondent Secunder Kermani says that IS-K, a local branch of the Islamic State Group, is expected to say it was behind the attack.

Last Friday, a suicide attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the northern city of Kunduz killed at least 50 people. IS-K said it carried out the attack, which was the deadliest since US forces left at the end of August.

IS-K, a Sunni Muslim group, is the most extreme and violent of all the jihadist militant groups in Afghanistan, and is violently opposed to the governing Taliban. Sunni Muslim extremists have targeted Shia Muslims, whom they see as heretics.

IS-K has targeted Afghan security forces, Afghan politicians and ministries, the Taliban, religious minorities including Shia Muslims and Sikhs, US and Nato forces, and international agencies, including aid organisations.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan after foreign forces withdrew from the country at the end of August following a deal agreed with the US.

It came two decades after US forces had removed the militants from power in 2001.

source: bbc

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