Blast kills more than 50 worshipers at Kabul mosque

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A powerful explosion killed more than 50 worshipers after Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, its leader said, amid a series of attacks on civilian targets in Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The blast hit the Khalifa Sahib Mosque in the west of the capital in the early afternoon, said Besmullah Habib, deputy spokesman for the interior ministry, who said the official confirmed death toll was 10.

The attack came as worshipers at the Sunni mosque gathered after Friday prayers for a congregation known as Zikr - an act of religious remembrance practiced by some Muslims but seen as heretical by some hardline Sunni groups.

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Sayed Fazil Agha, the head of the mosque, said someone they believed was a suicide bomber joined them in the ceremony and detonated explosives.

“Black smoke rose and spread everywhere, dead bodies were everywhere,” he told Reuters, adding that his nephews were among the dead.

“I myself survived, but lost my beloved ones,” he said.

Mohammad Sabir, a resident in the area, said he had seen people being loaded into ambulances after the explosion.

“The blast was very loud, I thought my eardrums were cracked,” he said.

Emergency Hospital in downtown Kabul said it was treating 20 patients wounded in the blast.

A nurse at a nearby hospital who declined to be named said they had received several injured people in critical condition from the attack.

Scores of Afghan civilians have been killed in recent weeks in blasts, some of which have been claimed by ISIS.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August and largely eliminated the ISIS local offshoot, but international officials and analysts say the risk of a resurgence in militancy remains.

Many of the attacks have targeted Shia religious minority, however Sunni mosques have also been attacked.

Bombs exploded aboard two passenger vans carrying Shia Muslims in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, killing at least nine people. Last Friday, a blast tore through a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers in the city of Kunduz, killing 33 people.

The latest attack came on the holy Muslim day of Friday, the last in the month of Ramadan in which most Muslims fast and before the religious holiday of Eid next week.

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