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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Suicide bombers attack two Afghan mosques, over 70 dead

The two attacks capped a bloody week in the war-torn country.

Afghan policemen and local residents gather outside the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque the day after a suicide attack during Friday evening prayers, in Kabul on October 21, 2017. AFP
Afghan policemen and local residents gather outside the Imam Zaman Shiite mosque the day after a suicide attack during Friday evening prayers, in Kabul on October 21, 2017. AFP

Suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 72 people including children, officials and witnesses said.

One bomber walked into a Shiite Muslim mosque in the capital Kabul as people were praying on Friday night and detonated an explosive, one of the worshippers there, Mahmood Shah Husaini, said.

At least 39 people died in the blast at the Imam Zaman mosque in the city's western Dasht-e-Barchi district, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

No group claimed responsibility. But Shiite Muslims have suffered a series of attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, many of them claimed by ISIL.

Separately, a suicide bombing killed at least 33 people at a mosque in central Ghor province, a police spokesman said.

The attack appeared to target a local leader from the Jamiat political party, according to a statement from Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a leading figure in Jamiat.

Again, no one immediately claimed responsibility for the grisly attack.

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The attacks cap one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 120 people killed and hundreds more wounded in four separate Taliban attacks on police and military bases.

In three of the attacks Taliban militants used bomb-laden Humvees stolen from Afghan government forces to blast their way into targets, as militants step up direct attacks on security installations.

The last attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul happened on September 29 as Muslims prepared to commemorate Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shiite centres in the city, as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.

An attack on another Shiite mosque in the city on August 25 killed 28 people and wounded around 50 others.

Four attackers who set off explosions and fired gunshots laid siege to the mosque in the north of the capital for four hours as dozens of men, women and children had gathered for Friday prayers.

In recent years, the Taliban and ISIL jihadists have repeatedly targeted the minority Shiite community, who number around three million in overwhelmingly Sunni Afghanistan.