‘Large number’ killed and wounded by Afghan mosque blast during Friday prayers

A powerful explosion in a mosque frequented by a religious minority in northern Afghanistan has left several casualties, witnesses and the Taliban said.

he blast occurred in a Shiite mosque in Kunduz province during the Friday prayer service at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque, when members of the Shiite religious minority typically come in large numbers for worship.

Witness Ali Reza said he was praying at the time of the explosion and reported seeing many casualties.

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People inspect the inside of the mosque (Abdullah Sahil/AP)

Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the mosque was the target and a “large number” of worshippers were killed and wounded.

He said Taliban special forces had arrived at the scene and were investigating the incident.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear. No group has claimed responsibility for it.

The Taliban leadership has been grappling with a growing threat from the local affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan.

IS militants have ramped up attacks to target their rivals, including two deadly bombings in Kabul.

IS has also targeted Afghanistan’s religious minorities in attacks.

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