KABUL: A suicide bomber attacked a Shi’ite mosque in eastern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, killing 25 people and wounding 40, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but police said at least two men had entered the mosque in the city of Gardez in the province of Paktia where about 60 people were praying.
The blast hit the Khawaja Hassan mosque.
“Emergency teams have collected 25 bodies from the mosque premises and 40 people have been rushed to hospital,” said Abdullah Hazrat, a senior government official who was at the blast site.
One witness told Reuters that Shi’ite Muslims, a minority in Sunni-majority Afghanistan, were praying when one man detonated his explosives. A second attacker is reported to have opened fire as worshippers gathered.
Afghanistan has mostly avoided the sectarian violence that has devastated countries such as Iraq, but there have been increasing numbers of attacks on Shi’ite targets in recent years.
No reliable census information exists on the size of the Shi’ite community in Afghanistan, but estimates range around 10-20 percent, with most coming from the Persian-speaking Hazara and Tajik ethnic groups. (reuters)