Afghan mosque explosion kills many, witnesses, Taliban say

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A powerful explosion at a mosque frequented by a minority religious group in northern Afghanistan on Friday claimed several lives, witnesses and the Taliban spokesman said.

The explosion occurred at a Shia mosque in Kunduz province during the weekly Friday prayer service at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque, when members of the Shia religious minority usually come in large numbers for worship . Witness Ali Reza said he was praying at the time of the explosion and said he saw many casualties.

Taliban chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the Shia mosque was the target and that “large numbers” of worshipers were killed and injured. He said Taliban special forces arrived at the scene and were investigating the incident.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

The Taliban leadership is grappling with a growing threat from the local Islamic State affiliate known as the Islamic State in Khorasan. IS militants have stepped up attacks against their rivals, including two deadly bombings in Kabul.

ISIS has also targeted Afghan religious minorities in attacks.

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