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50 killed in blast at Afghanistan’s Kunduz mosque

A mosque was targeted in the northern city of Kunduz in Afghanistan. (file)

Kabul:

At least 50 people were killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Afghan city of Kunduz on Friday.

“So far we have found 35 bodies in our hospital and more than 50 have been injured,” a doctor at Kunduz Central Hospital said on condition of anonymity.

At least 15 bodies were found at another hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), a source said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier said that an unknown number of people were killed and injured when “an explosion at a mosque of our Shia compatriot” in Kunduz.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group, a bitter rival of the Taliban, has recently claimed similar atrocities.

Residents of Kunduz, the capital of a province of the same name, told AFP the blast occurred during Friday prayers at a Shia mosque, the most important day of the week for Muslims.

Zalmay Alokzai, a local businessman who arrived at Kunduz provincial hospital to check whether doctors needed blood donation, described the horrific scenes.

“I have seen more than 40 bodies,” he told AFP. “Ambulances were on their way back to the scene to take the dead.”

An international aid worker at the city’s MSF hospital told AFP there were fears the death toll could rise.

“Hundreds of people have gathered at the main entrance of the hospital and are crying out for their relatives, but armed Taliban men are trying to stop the gathering if they plan another blast,” he said.

frightened crowd

Graphic images shared on social media, which could not be immediately verified, showed several bloodied bodies lying on the floor.

Another video showed men shepherding people, including women and children, away from the scene. A scared crowd gathered on the streets.

Kunduz’s location makes it a major transit point for economic and trade exchanges with Tajikistan.

It was the scene of fierce fighting as the Taliban returned to power this year.

Often targeted by Sunni extremists, Shia Muslims have faced some of Afghanistan’s most violent attacks, with rallies being bombed, hospitals targeted and travelers ambushed.

Shias make up about 20 percent of the Afghan population. Many of them are Hazaras, an ethnic group that has been heavily persecuted in Afghanistan for decades.

(This story has not been edited by NB staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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