KANDAHAR: A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the Afghan city of Kandahar during Friday prayers, killing at least 62 people and injuring dozens of others, Taliban officials said.
The assault came just a week after a suicide attack on worshippers at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz, which was claimed by the Daesh.
Taking to Twitter, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attack and wrote: "The Islamic Emirate condemns the barbaric attack on civilians in a mosque in Kandahar. We have directed the security forces to find the perpetrators of such grave crimes as soon as possible and bring them to justice."
"The Islamic Emirate also extends its deepest condolences to the families of the victims," he added.
There has not yet been any claim of responsibility for the assault in Kandahar, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban.
"Our initial information shows it was a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside the mosque. We have launched an investigation to find out more," a local Taliban official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
A doctor at the city's central Mirwais hospital told AFP: "Thirty-two bodies and 53 wounded people have been brought to our hospital so far."
Other medical sources and a provincial official confirmed a toll of more than 30, and at least 15 ambulances were rushing to and from the scene.
The mosque's Facebook account made an appeal for blood donations.
An eyewitness told AFP he heard three explosions, one at the main door of the mosque, another at a southern area, and a third where worshippers wash before their prayers.
Another witness also said that three blasts rocked the mosque in the centre of the town during Friday prayers, the busiest congregation of the week.
"We are saddened to learn that an explosion took place in a mosque of the Shiite brotherhood in the first district of Kandahar city in which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded," tweeted interior ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti, of the Taliban movement that rules Afghanistan.
"Special forces of the Islamic Emirate have arrived in the area to determine the nature of the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice."
Graphic images posted to social media, which could not be immediately verified, showed bodies lying on the floor of the Fatemieh mosque.
Last Friday, a Daesh-Khorasan suicide bomber targeted a mosque in Kunduz, killing scores of people.
The group, a bitter rival of the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attacks against the worshippers, whom it regards as heretics.
But the new Taliban-led government has vowed to stabilise the country, and in the wake of the Kunduz attack promised to protect the minorities now living under its rule.
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