Mosque blast in Afghanistan kills prominent scholar, civilians | News

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At least 18 people, including a pro-Taliban imam, have been killed in a suicide attack on the Guzargah mosque in western Herat city.

An explosion at a mosque in the city of Herat in western Afghanistan has killed a prominent pro-Taliban scholar and more than a dozen civilians.

Images on social media on Friday showed what appeared to be bloodstained bodies scattered around the mosque complex. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“Eighteen people were killed in the incident and 23 others were injured,” Hameedullah Motawakel, spokesman for the governor of Herat province, told reporters.

The explosion went off at Guzargah Mosque during Friday afternoon prayers.

“Mujib Rahman Ansari and some of his guards and civilians were killed on the way to the mosque,” Herat police spokesman Mahmoud Rasooli said. “One of the suicide bombers blew himself up while kissing his hands.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the perpetrators behind the bombing will be punished.

“The country’s strong and courageous religious scholar has been killed in a brutal attack,” Mujahid said on Twitter.

Dead and wounded

Taliban official Abdul Nafi Takor confirmed Friday’s explosion and said there were deaths and injuries, but said he had no further details.

Mujib Rahman Ansari had spoken strongly in defense of the Taliban in late June at a large gathering of thousands of scholars and elders organized by the group, and condemned anyone who opposed its rule.

Ansari is the second pro-Taliban scholar to be killed in an explosion in less than a month after Rahimullah Haqqani was killed in a suicide bomb attack at his madrassa in Kabul. Haqqani was known for his furious speeches against the armed group ISIL (ISIS), which later claimed responsibility for his death.

The Taliban say they have improved security in the country since taking power about a year ago, but there have been several explosions in recent months, some of which went after crowded mosques during prayers.

Previous attacks on mosques have been claimed by ISIL, which has carried out a series of attacks against religious and ethnic minorities in Afghanistan, as well as Taliban targets.

The Herat mosque attracts followers of Sunni Islam, the dominant stream in Afghanistan that is also followed by the Taliban.

ISIL has carried out several suicide attacks targeting Shia Muslims during Friday prayers.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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