Dozens dead after attack on Shia Mosque in northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan has witnessed a spate of ISIS attacks targeting the Shia minority since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from the country
By News Desk - April 21 2022

People inspect the inside of a mosque following an attack by ISIS in Kunduz province, northern Afghanistan, 8 October, 2021. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Abdullah Sahil)

A powerful explosion hit the largest Shia Mosque in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on 21 April, killing at least 30 worshippers and injuring more than 60.

The attack took place during midday prayers as Muslims celebrated the holy month of Ramadan.

Since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last year, the Shia religious minority has been frequently targeted by Sunni militant groups, including ISIS.

A resident of Mazar-e-Sharif who spoke with Reuters said she was shopping in a nearby market when she heard a large explosion and saw smoke rising from the area around the mosque.

“The glass of the shops was broken and it was very crowded and everyone started to run,” the woman, who declined to be named, said.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the blast.

The Mosque attack comes just two days after a boys school in a Shia-Hazara neighborhood of Kabul was targeted by suicide bombings, killing several young students.

ISIS attacks have often targeted Shia Muslims, particularly those of the ethnic Hazara minority in Afghanistan, with one of their most notable bombings being the destruction of Imam Bargah Mosque, which resulted in 32 deaths and dozens injured.

In May 2021, at least 85 people – mainly female students – were killed and about 300 others were wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.

The Taliban have focused their efforts on combating ISIS forces in recent months, with the government deploying hundreds of its Badri 313 special forces to Nangarhar and Kunar provinces back in January.

Both provinces are believed to be major ISIS strongholds in the country.

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