Afghanistan: ‘Blood and fear everywhere’ after deadly IS blast

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Dozens of people have been killed or injured in four explosions across Afghanistan on Thursday, local officials and journalists have said.

The first explosion tore through a Shia mosque in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

At least 11 people were killed, and more than 30 injured, a health official told the BBC.

The Islamic State group (IS) admitted the attack, saying it had remotely detonated a booby-trapped bag when the building was packed with worshippers.

The group called the attack part of an ongoing global campaign to “avenge” the deaths of its former leader and spokesman.

IS has not said it was behind the three other explosions, and it is not clear if they are connected.

The second blast saw a vehicle blown up near a police station in Kunduz, leaving four dead and 18 injured, a police spokesman said.

The BBC has also received reports of a Taliban vehicle being hit by a roadside mine in eastern Nangarhar province, killing four Taliban members and wounding a fifth.

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A fourth blast was caused by a mine planted in the Niaz Beyk area of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, and wounded two children.

Thursday’s bloodshed comes days after two bomb blasts at Abdul Rahim Shahid high school in a mostly Shia area of the Afghan capital, Kabul. At least six people were killed and more than 20 wounded, officials said. IS militants have attacked the area in the past, but did not say they were behind that incident.

‘Everyone started to run’

Local reports and witnesses say the explosion in Mazar-i-Sharif happened at Seh Dokan, one of the biggest mosques used locally by the Shia minority group.

Afghan news outlet Tolo News is reporting a higher injury toll, saying at least 65 people were hurt in that explosion alone. Tolls remain fluid at this stage and liable to change.

Afghanistan’s Shia community is often targeted by Sunni militant groups, including the Islamic State.

The blast is said to have happened while worshippers were preparing to perform prayers. Images shared on social media, which the BBC has not verified, showed the site littered with broken glass and victims being carried.

One Mazar-i-Sharif woman told news agency Reuters she had been shopping at a nearby market when she heard a large explosion near the mosque.

“The glass of the shops was broken and it was very crowded and everyone started to run,” she said, asking for her name not to be used.

Richard Bennett, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan on human rights, condemned the attacks.

“Today more explosions rocks Afghanistan […] and again the Hazara community is a victim. Systematic targeted attacks on crowded schools and mosques calls for immediate investigation, accountability and end to human rights violations,” he wrote on Twitter.

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