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An injured student is transported to a hospital after a bomb exploded near a school west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)

A bomb exploded a mosque in northern Kabul during Friday prayers and killed 12 worshipers, Afghan police said.

Spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said the mosque’s imam, Mofti Naiman, was among the dead. Fifteen other people were injured.

The bomb exploded as the prayers began. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but early police investigations suggest the imam may have been the target, Faramarz said.

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A mosque worshiper, Muhibullah Sahebzada, said he had just entered the mosque when the explosion occurred. Stunned, he heard the sound of screams, including children, as smoke filled the mosque. Sahebzada said he saw several bodies on the floor of the mosque and at least one child was among the injured.

It appeared that the explosive device had been hidden inside and then in the pulpit in front of the mosque.

“I was afraid of a second explosion so I came home immediately,” he said.

An image circulating on social media showed three bodies lying on the floor of the mosque, which showed minor damage.

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The explosion comes on the second day of a three-day ceasefire announced by the warring Taliban and the Afghan government. The break was for the Islamic festival Eid-al-Fitr, which follows the fasting month of Ramadan.

So far, many attacks in the capital have been claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate, but the Taliban and the government blame each other.

The most recent attack last week killed more than 90 people, many of whom were leaving a girls’ school when a powerful car bomb exploded. The Taliban have denied any involvement and condemned the attack.

The relentless violence comes as US and NATO allied forces continue their final withdrawal from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of war.

As recently as this week, the last US troops left Kandahar Air Base South, while some NATO troops remained. At the height of the war, more than 30,000 American troops were stationed in Kandahar, the heart of the Taliban. Kandahar was the second largest US base in Afghanistan after Bagram north of the Afghan capital.

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