Several civilians were killed in an explosion at a mosque in Kabul where people were praying for the mother of a Taliban spokesman, movement officials said on Sunday, and shots were later reported on the city’s outskirts.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s attack, apparently the most serious in the Afghan capital since the withdrawal of US forces in August.
Several other civilians were injured in the blast on a main road near the entrance of the Idgah mosque, officials said.
Taliban commanders were seen bleeding at a hospital treating the wounded. Media access was strictly controlled.
The attack underscored the growing challenges facing the Taliban as they battle to adapt to the government and prevent the complete collapse of Afghanistan’s war-battered economy, with millions at risk of famine.
Local ally of Islamic State, which has fought the Taliban for years, has already claimed to have carried out attacks on Taliban fighters, although officials in the new government have dismissed threats from the group.
Hours after Sunday’s explosion, local media reported heavy gunfire in Karezimir, an area north of the city. Contacted residents confirmed that they had heard explosions and gunshots. Reuters was not immediately able to determine who was involved.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the blast. He did not comment on reports from other officials in the movement that prayers were held at the mosque for his mother, who had recently died.
The Taliban, who are also fighting the remnants of forces loyal to Ahmed Masood, an opposition leader Panjshiro The region north of Kabul has said that they have almost complete control over the country.
But Sunday’s violence, and small incidents in recent days in areas including Nangarhar on the Pakistan border and Parwan, north of Kabul, have shown that the security threats have not disappeared.
A Taliban soldier who witnessed the blast on Sunday said two people were killed and eight were injured. He said it appeared there were two attackers and added that one of them was killed and the other was caught trying to escape.
Local media quoted the Interior Ministry as saying eight people were killed and 20 wounded, but a Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the final total would be higher.
The Taliban claimed several suicide attacks in Kabul during a 20-year insurgency against the Western-backed government, killing thousands of civilians. The Afghans hoped that their victory would bring an end to the movement.
However terrorist groups such as the Islamic State continue to operate, posing a potentially serious threat to stability. The group recently claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
“The blast took place on the main road just outside the Idgah mosque, where Zabihullah Mujahid’s mother was being offered prayers,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
In August, Taliban Islamist militias returned to power in Afghanistan when most American and other Western troops left, ending a military and diplomatic mission that began shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. happened.