An ISIS affiliate on Friday claimed responsibility for a series of bombings a day earlier that targeted Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims.
The deadliest of three bombings on Thursday in Afghanistan exploded inside a Shiite mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif. Hospital officials say at least 12 people were killed and as many as 40 were hurt.
Earlier on Thursday, a roadside bomb exploded near a boys’ school in the Afghan capital of Kabul, injuring two children in the city’s predominately Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi. A third bomb in northern Kunduz injured 11 mechanics working for the country’s Taliban rulers.
Since sweeping to power last August, the Taliban have been battling the upstart ISIS affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province or IS-K which is proving to be an intractable security challenge for Afghanistan’s government.
Last November the Taliban’s intelligence unit carried out sweeping attacks on suspected IS-K hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province, AP reported.
In a statement on Friday, the IS-K said the explosive device that devastated Mazar-e-Sharif’s Sai Doken mosque was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshippers. As they knelt in prayer, it exploded.
“When the mosque was filled with prayers, the explosives were detonated remotely,” the IS statement said, claiming that 100 people were injured.
The Taliban say they have arrested a former IS-K leader in northern Balkh province, of which Mazar-e-Sharif is the capital. Zabihullah Noorani, information and culture department chief in Balkh province, said Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was arrested in connection with Thursday’s mosque attack.
The IS-K had been relatively inactive in Afghanistan since last November, but in recent days have stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan, taking aim at Shiite Muslim communities.
Earlier this month two bombs exploded in Kabul’s Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing at least seven students and wounding several others.