Bomb blast at Kabul mosque leaves Imam dead, 16 injured

Bomb blast at Kabul mosque leaves Imam dead, 16 injured

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KABUL: A prominent Afghan religious scholar was killed and another 16 people wounded in a blast during Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, officials said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which took place at the Al-Taqwa mosque in eastern Kabul, where Mawlawi Raihan had been the imam or prayer leader.

Friday prayers, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, are usually well attended.

“Unfortunately in the blast, Mawlawi Raihan has been martyred and 16 other worshippers were wounded,” said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the interior ministry.

The explosion took place around 1:20 pm (0850 GMT).

Jan Agha, a district police official, says the bomb was apparently planted in the microphone used by the mosque leader during Friday prayers.

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group regularly stage attacks in the country’s capital.

The Kabul neighborhood where the bombing took place is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, most of whom are Sunni Muslims and who make up the backbone of the Taliban movement.

Police spokesman Firdaws Faramarz confirmed that Raihan was killed and said investigators were probing the nature of the explosion.

Local television channel Tolo said the explosion was caused by a bomb.

Raihan was relatively well known in Kabul, as he appeared frequently on religious shows broadcast on local TV.

While Kabul has seen frequent attacks on Shiite shrines and gatherings, particularly by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, Raihan was a Sunni.

Raihan’s Facebook page showed him standing alongside members of the Afghan security forces.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

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