Kabul: A powerful explosion rocked a minority Shiite mosque in Pol-i-Khomri, the capital of Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan on Friday, causing significant casualties, as per local reports. The exact nature of the blast was initially unclear, but it was later confirmed by the Taliban government.
Bilal Karimi, deputy government spokesman, expressed strong condemnation for the incident but cited a lack of complete information regarding the situation.
The incident occurred during Friday prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque, and witnesses described a deafening sound followed by the evacuation of many injured and deceased individuals to the hospital. The situation on the ground is reported to be dire, with ambulance sirens blaring as victims receive medical attention.
Though security in Afghanistan had notably improved after the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the regional branch of the Islamic State (IS) group remained a threat, particularly targeting Shiite communities they consider heretical. Notably, both the Taliban and IS adhere to an austere Sunni ideology.
A UN Security Council report in May revealed over 190 suicide bombings by IS in Afghanistan since 2022, resulting in over 1,300 casualties. This resurgence of IS in Afghanistan has also strained relations with neighbouring Pakistan, as they claim IS fighters are crossing the border to carry out attacks on their soil.