Deadly blast rips through mosque near Afghan interior ministry

A suicide bomber hit a center of Taliban power on Wednesday, triggering an explosion in a government ministry in the Afghan capital, Kabul. At least four people were killed, a Taliban official said.

The afternoon blast occurred as workers and visitors were praying inside a mosque in Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, which is responsible for security and law enforcement in the country. The ministry is located on Kabul’s main road next to Kabul International Airport and is in its own fortified area.

A Taliban-appointed spokesman for the ministry, Abdul Nafi Takor, said in a tweet: “Unfortunately this afternoon, around 1:30 p.m., there was an explosion in a sub-mosque of the Ministry of Interior, as a result of which four worshipers were martyred and 25 others were injured . The incident is under investigation, we will share the details with the media when it is complete.”

He said earlier that the blast occurred while ministry staff and visitors were praying.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s main rival, has waged a campaign of violence against the Taliban and minority Shiites that has intensified since the Taliban took power in August 2021.

The attack on a government building inside a fortified area is a serious blow to the Taliban, which has sought to contain threats to its power and project an image of legitimacy, control and strength since taking power.

The emergency hospital in Kabul said it began receiving patients around 10 p.m. 14 with injuries and burns, but that initially there was no news of an attack or explosion. The group tweeted that it was the second mass casualty event the hospital has dealt with in recent days and the 23rd of the year.

On TwitterEmergency Hospital posted a video of an injured person on a stretcher.

“A few minutes later, the number of injured people arriving increased and they reported seeing a man detonate a device,” said Emergency’s acting country director, Dejan Panic. “It was a suicide attack.”

Panik said the hospital received 20 injured, all adult men. Of those, 16 were hospitalized and two were dead on arrival. The number could rise, he said: “The operating theaters are working and we have activated mass casualty procedures.”

The mosque bombing follows last week’s suicide bombers at an educational center in Kabul that killed as many as 52 people, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, more than double the death toll acknowledged by Taliban officials.

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