Huge explosion rips through Kabul mosque

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Dozens of people are reportedly feared dead in Afghanistan after a blast during evening prayers

A large explosion that tore through a Kabul mosque during evening prayers has reportedly left dozens dead and injured.

The blast went off on Wednesday inside a mosque in a northern Kabul neighborhood. A hospital run by the Emergency NGO charity said it had received 27 victims, including five children. A Taliban intelligence official told Reuters that as many as 35 people were wounded or killed, and the toll may rise further.

Various other media reports placed the death toll from 20 to over 30. Al Jazeera cited an unidentified official as saying that at least 20 people were dead. The mosque’s imam was reportedly among those killed.

The explosion came just two days after the one-year anniversary of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Taliban, which recaptured control of the country after two decades of fighting with US and NATO forces, has blamed the terrorist group ISIS-K for recent attacks in Kabul, including a bombing that killed eight people and wounded 18 earlier this month at a Shiite Muslim gathering. 

Wednesday’s explosion was reportedly so powerful that it was heard across a large area of the capital and shattered windows in nearby buildings in the Khair Khana neighborhood. 

The blast came on the same day that the Taliban killed one of its former leaders, Mawlawi Mahdi, who was its first commander of a group hailing from the minority Shiite Hazara community. Mahdi had rebelled against the Taliban and was shot dead near the border with Iran as he tried to flee the country, Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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