62 killed in Afghan mosque blast

Agencies
October 19, 2019

JALALABAD: At least 62 people were killed by a blast inside an Afghan mosque during Friday prayers, a day after the United Nations said violence in Afghanistan had reached 'unacceptable' levels.The...

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JALALABAD: At least 62 people were killed by a blast inside an Afghan mosque during Friday prayers, a day after the United Nations said violence in Afghanistan had reached "unacceptable" levels.

The explosion, which witnesses said brought the mosque´s roof down, took place in the eastern Nangarhar province.

At least 62 people were killed and 33 wounded, governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told reporters.

The attack occurred in Haska Mina district, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the provincial capital Jalalabad.

Witnesses said the roof of the mosque had fallen through after the "loud" explosion, the nature of which was not immediately clear.

Some 350 worshippers were inside at the time. No group claimed responsibility for the blast, with the Taliban terming it a ‘major crime’.

The Afghan government officials gave conflicting reports about the source of the blast.

Attaullah Khogyani said two bombs were planted inside the mosque and detonated almost simultaneously, but Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and strongly condemned it in a tweet.

Seddiqi blamed “the Taliban and their partners” who “continue to target civilians in time of worship.” Daesh did not issue a statement on the attack, but the group has a strong presence near the district where the attack occurred.

The blast came after the UN released a new report on Thursday saying an “unprecedented” number of civilians were killed or wounded in Afghanistan from July to September.

The report, which also charts violence throughout 2019 so far, underscores how “Afghans have been exposed to extreme levels of violence for many years” despite promises by all sides to “prevent and mitigate harm to civilians”.

“Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable,” said the UN´s special representative in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, adding they demonstrate the importance of talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement. The figures — 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured from July 1 until September 30 — represent a 42 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

The UN dumped most of the blame for the spike on the “anti-government elements” such as the Taliban.


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