- The explosion tears apart the mosque during Friday prayers.
- Eyewitnesses describe three suicide bombers, one of whom blew himself up at the entrance to the mosque while the other two detonated their devices inside the building.
- The explosion marks the second massive attack in a week targeting the faithful.
At least 62 people were killed and 68 were reportedly injured in Kandahar, Afghanistan after a bomb exploded in a city mosque on Friday, the state-run Bakhtar news agency reported.
According to a health official, the number of victims is expected to increase.
The bomb explosion occurred during Friday prayers.
The explosion marked the second massive attack in a week targeting worshipers.
Speaking to Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attack and wrote: “The Islamic Emirate condemns the barbaric attack on civilians in a Kandahar mosque. them to justice.
“The Islamic Emirate also offers its deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” he added.
A local reporter in Kandahar said Reuters that eyewitnesses described three suicide bombers, one of whom blew himself up at the entrance to the mosque, the other two detonating their devices inside the building.
“The situation is very bad. Mirwais hospital is sending messages and calling on young people to donate blood,” he said, referring to a local hospital where the dead and wounded had been transported.
Photographs and cellphone images posted by journalists on social media showed scores of people apparently dead or seriously injured on the bloodied floor of the Imam Bargah Mosque.
A health official gave figures of 33 dead and 73 injured and said the final total could be higher. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Saeed Khosti of the ruling Taliban movement said authorities were gathering details.
The explosion came just days after an attack claimed by Daesh militants that killed dozens of Shia worshipers at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz. The total death toll from this attack was estimated at 80.
The Taliban have pledged to protect all ethnic and sectarian groups since coming to power in August with the withdrawal of US forces.
The Embassy of Iran, Afghanistan’s neighbor and the region’s leading Shiite power, condemned the attack.
“We hope that the Taliban leadership will take decisive action against these appalling terrorist incidents,” he said in a tweet.
Taliban special forces arrived to secure the site and an appeal was made to residents to donate blood for the wounded.
The explosion, which came so soon after the attack on Kunduz, underscored the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Taliban grapple with a growing economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens millions of people with hunger.
The local Daesh affiliate, known as Daesh Khorasan after an ancient name for the region covering Afghanistan, stepped up its attacks after the Taliban defeated the West-backed government in Kabul in August.
Taliban officials downplayed the threat from Daesh and rejected suggestions that they might accept US aid to fight the group. But repeated attacks have tarnished their claim to have brought peace to Afghanistan after four decades of war.