35 killed in Afghan Shia mosque attack

Gardez (Afghanistan) At least 35 people were killed and more than 70 others wounded after two explosions ripped through a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s Gardez city on Friday, the media reported.

The blasts took place at 1.30 p.m. when people were offering Friday prayers inside Imam-e-Zaman Mosque in Police District 2. Gardez is the capital of eastern province of Paktia, a police officer told Xinhua news agency.

Reports suggested two gunmen entered the mosque, opening fire on worshippers before detonating the explosives. The mosque building was severely damaged by the blasts. The bombers also used hand grenades during the attack, Paktia police chief was quoted as saying by TOLO News.

Walayat Ahmadzai, head of provincial health department, confirmed the toll.

“Several wounded people were shifted to a military hospital in Afghan Army’s Corps 203 Thander for intensive treatment as the government-run hospitals were not able to provide treatment for all the victims,” Ahmadzai said.

He warned that the toll may go up as many of the wounded were in critical condition. At least 600 people were inside the mosque at the time of strike, TOLO said.

Security forces cordoned off the area in Khowja Hassan neighbourhood mostly dominated by Shia Afghans. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, calling it “inhuman”.

Over the past few months, Afghanistan has witnessed waves of terror attacks against Shia mosques mostly claimed by the extremist Islamic State outfit.

In late March, one civilian was killed and nine others wounded after two IS gunmen attacked a Shia mosque in western Herat province.