Twin Mosque Attacks Kill Scores in One of Afghanistan’s Deadliest Weeks

Twin Mosque Attacks Kill Scores in One of Afghanistan’s Deadliest Weeks
(Sunday, October 22, 2017) 08:42

The Center of Mosque Studies: Just like any other day, Zareen Gul, 60, held the hand of her grandson, Ali Seyar Nazari, 10, and left home to attend the early evening prayer in their neighborhood mosque in the west of Kabul.

This time, however, they did not return home. Their family found their remains, barely identifiable from the clothes they wore, at a hospital after an Islamic State suicide bomber targeted the prayer.

Ms. Gul and young Seyar became the latest victims of what has been one of Afghanistan’s deadliest weeks. The death toll from twin attacks on mosques late on Friday, just hours apart, was raised on Saturday to at least 67 people killed and dozens wounded. As many as 88 may have died in the two attacks.

More than 200 people, both civilians and security personnel, have been killed this week in Afghanistan in six attacks. A precise casualty total is hard to get, as varying levels of violence rage in more than half the country’s provinces.

Late Saturday afternoon, another suicide bombing was carried out in Kabul, targeting a minibus carrying students from the city’s military academy. “Fourteen officers were killed. We don’t have information on the number of wounded,” said Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghan defense ministry.

The country’s security forces have suffered heavy casualties this week, with at least 89 killed in three Taliban attacks nationwide.

Ms. Gul and Seyar were among the 58 killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque in the west of Kabul.

The other mosque attack happened in Dolaina district, in the western province of Ghor, and the exact casualty toll was contested. Two senior security officials put the death toll at 21, while the district’s governor told local Afghan media that 30 people had been killed. However, Bismillah Khan, the head of criminal investigations at the district’s police force, insisted only 9 people had died.

While no group claimed responsibility for the Ghor attack, the Islamic State, in a statement, said that one of its fighters in what it called Khorasan Province, an ancient name for the region that includes Afghanistan, had detonated an explosive vest inside the mosque in Western Kabul.

“There were about 300 worshipers inside the mosque, with women on one side,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, a neighborhood leader who was surveying the destruction on Saturday. The pulpit, the walls, as well much of the carpet in the front of the hall was covered in blood.

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