Deadly blast hits Kabul mosque during Friday prayers

7 months ago 61
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A blast in a mosque during the Friday prayers in the western part of capital Kabul has killed at least four people and wounded many more, Afghanistan's interior ministry said.

"Explosives placed inside the Shir Shah-e-Suri Mosque exploded during Friday prayers," said a statement issued by the ministry, which added that the mosque's prayer leader Mofleh Frotan was among those killed.

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Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said police have cordoned off the area and helped move the wounded to ambulances and nearby hospitals.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but a mosque attack earlier this month was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group's affiliate, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province.

"Interestingly, every time you have the peace process gaining some momentum and pace, you have these kind of attacks in the country," Habib Wardak, a national security analyst based in Kabul, told Al Jazeera.

"The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack that happened last week on a mosque in Kabul, so despite the fact that you have these news and press conference from the government that they have eliminated ISIL, how can they conduct such a sophisticated operations?"

Friday's blast had parallels to one earlier this month, when an explosion tore apart a famous Kabul mosque and led to the death of renowned Afghan cleric Maulvi Ayaz Naizi.

"In this attack the imam seems to be the target, not the rest of the crowd. These are the Imams who have supported the peace process with the Taliban movement.

"The other political aspect for these kind of attacks is that there are peace spoilers trying to convey a message that peace with the Taliban will not eradicate violence in the country because you have ISIL," Wardak said.

Violence has spiked in recent weeks in Afghanistan with most of the attacks claimed by the ISIL affiliate.

The United States blamed the armed group for a horrific attack last month on a maternity hospital in the capital that killed 24 people, including two infants and several new mothers.

The IS affiliate also took responsibility for an attack on a bus carrying journalists in Kabul on May 30, killing two.

It also claimed credit for an attack on the funeral of a strongman loyal to the government last month that killed 35 people.

Meanwhile, the US is attempting to broker peace talks between the Afghan government and the armed group Taliban to end 18 years of war.

Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region earlier this week trying to resuscitate a US peace deal with the Taliban.

The peace deal signed in February calls for the withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in return for a commitment by the Taliban to not launch attacks on the US or its allies.

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