Lamia Rashid & Najaha Nauf
Kabul, Afghanistan – An attack on a Kabul mosque has left at least four people, including the mullah, dead.
The bombing in the Shir Shah Shoori mosque took place amid the communal Friday prayer service. The explosion in West Kabul comes 10 days after a bombing in another well-known mosque in downtown Kabul and killed two people, including the mullah who was also the host of a popular religious Television program. In an online statement, the Taliban have condemned the latest mosque attack. The armed group claims that both of the attacks were orchestrated by “by a number of national security-linked individuals in collaboration with ISIS.”
“Such systematic killings have begun taking place as the Afghan people have started taking steps towards peace,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in the statement. Last week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his government is prepared to begin face-to-face peace talks with the Taliban within the next week.
The Taliban and Daesh have been at odds with one another since forces claiming allegiance to the so-called Islamic State first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014.
Both incidents have incited anger and fear among Kabul residents, who continue to question how such high-profile houses of worship have been infiltrated by armed men. Because of its size and capacity, the Shir Shah Soori mosque — one of the few mosques in the city to have a proper women’s section — is often used for funeral prayer services, including those of high-profile officials and their families.
Residents say the relatively low casualty figures were due to the fact that fewer people were attending Friday services due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Afghanistan was one of the few Muslim-majority nations where mosques have remained open amid COVID-19 related shut downs of urban centers.
The last month has seen several brutal attacks targeting civilians in Kabul and the Eastern province of Nangarhar. In recent weeks everywhere from a maternity clinic to a funeral procession and mosques have come under attack. Nearly all of those killings were attributed to the so-called Islamic State group.