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76 killed in Afghan mosque bombings

World News
Sat, 21 Oct 2017

KABUL: Suicide bombers struck two mosques in Afghanistan yesterday killing 76 people at the end of a particularly deadly week for the troubled nation.
The Afghan president condemned the attacks saying the country’s security forces would step up the fight to “eliminate the terrorists who target Afghans of all religions and tribes”.
In the attack in Kabul, a suicide bomber walked into the Imam Zaman Mosque, in the western Dashte-e-Barchi neighbourhood, during Friday prayers where he detonated his explosives vest, killing 56 and wounding 55, said Maj Gen
Alimast Momand at the Interior Ministry.
The suicide bombing in a mosque in Ghor province, also during Friday prayers, killed 20 people, including a warlord who was apparently the target of the attack.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for either attack, the latest in a devastating week that saw Taliban attacks kill scores across the country.
The US government strongly condemned the attacks in Kabul and Ghor, as well as other attacks carried out across Afghanistan this week.
“In the face of these senseless and cowardly acts, our commitment to Afghanistan is unwavering. The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan and will continue to support their efforts to achieve peace and security for their country,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement.
In the Kabul attack, witness Ali Mohammad said the mosque was packed with worshippers, both men and women. The explosion was so strong that it shattered windows of nearby buildings, he said.
Residents who rushed to the scene chanted “Death to ISIS” – a reference to the Islamic State group which has staged similar attacks on mosques in recent months.
Dashte-e-Barchi is a sprawling neighbourhood in the west of Kabul where the majority of people are ethnic Hazaras, a minority in Afghanistan.
Hussainzada, the spiritual head of Hazaras, said the suicide bomber had positioned himself at the front of the prayer hall, standing with other men in the first of dozens of rows of worshippers before exploding his device. He appeared to be Uzbek, added Hussainzada.
The attack on the mosque in Ghor province took place in the Do Laina district. A police spokesman said the target apparently was a local commander, Abdul Ahed, a former warlord who has sided with the government. Seven of his bodyguards were also killed in the bombing.
In his statement, President Ghani said the day’s attacks show that “the terrorists have once again staged bloody attacks but they will not achieve their evil purposes and sow discord among the Afghans”.
It has been a brutal week in Afghanistan, with more than 70 killed, mostly policemen and Afghan soldiers but also civilians as militant attacks have surged.
The Taliban have taken responsibility for the earlier assaults this week that struck security installations in the east and west of the country.
Overnight on Wednesday and into Thursday, the Taliban killed at least 58 Afghan security forces in attacks that included an assault that nearly wiped out an army camp in southern Kandahar province.
And on Tuesday, the Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.