Suicide Attack On Afghan Mosque Kills 32

KABUL — Twenty-five people have been killed and 23 wounded in a suicide bombing inside a Shia mosque in eastern Afghanistan on August 3, a provincial government official said.

The Burqa-clad attacker blew himself up inside the mosque in the eastern Paktia Province’s capital of Gardez, said Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the Provincial Governor.

The bomber slipped undetected through a side door, said Mr. Asrat. The mosque was packed with those attending Friday prayers.

No one claimed has responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan has targeted Shia worshippers in the past. The affiliate has also warned Afghanistan’s minority Shias that their houses of worship would be targeted.

The blasts come as urban areas across Afghanistan have been rocked by an increasing number of attacks in recent months, with both Islamic State (IS) and Taliban insurgents targeting security forces and government installations.

Blasts, gunshots reported in eastern Afghan city

The Taliban has not claimed a major attack in a city for weeks as it comes under increased pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government.

But IS has carried out multiple attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital Kabul in recent months, targeting everything from government ministries to a midwife training centre.

Last month an IS suicide bomber blew himself up near Kabul international airport, killing 23 people including AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar.

The uptick in violence comes as US and Afghan forces intensify ground and air offensives against IS, and the Taliban step up their turf war with the group.

Earlier this week more than 150 IS fighters surrendered in northern Afghanistan in a move that Afghan security forces and the Taliban hailed as the end of the extremist group in the north of the country.

The surrender followed the Afghan army’s decision to take over security in the eastern city of Jalalabad in IS’s main stronghold of Nangarhar province after a spate of attacks, mostly claimed by the group.

Blasts, gunshots reported in eastern Afghan city

Afghan civilians have taken the brunt of the gruesome war that began after the 2001 US-led invasion uprooted the Taliban regime.

Insurgent attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, a recent UN report showed.

A total of 1,692 civilians were killed, the highest number for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began keeping records in 2009.

Another 3,430 people were wounded, the report added.

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