Dozens of people have been killed in a suicide bombing attack at a mosque in Afghanistan’s northeastern city of Kunduz during Friday prayers, the country’s worst attack since the Taliban took over in August.
“This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shia compatriots … as a result of which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties. A UN agency said the explosion killed or wounded more than 100 people.
“Initial information indicates more than 100 people killed and injured in a suicide blast inside the mosque,” the United Nations’ mission to Afghanistan said in a tweet.
Video footage showed bodies surrounded by debris inside the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque that is used by people from the minority Shia Muslim community.
Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, said that the “majority of them have been killed”. At least 100 people were killed or wounded in the attack, he said.
“I assure our Shia brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Obaida said, adding that an investigation was underway.
A medical source at the Kunduz Provincial Hospital said that 35 dead and more than 50 wounded had been taken there, while a worker at a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital reported 15 dead and scores more wounded.
“We have received more than 90 wounded patients and over 15 dead bodies, but the number will change. We are still receiving more people,” said the MSF hospital worker, who did not want to be named.
According to Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, local media quoting security officials has reported that the explosion was a “suicide bombing attack”.
“A suicide bomber managed to get into the Shia mosque by midday today in Kunduz, detonated himself and this explains the high number of casualties,” Ahelbarra said, reporting from Mazar-i-sharif.
“[People in Kunduz] said the scenes were horrifying with panic… they were struggling to deal with the human remains scattered throughout the backyard of the mosque.
“They expect the death toll to further climb in further hours because they say many people who were injured are in critical condition.”
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, however, members of the Islamic State group have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
There have been several attacks, including one at a mosque in Kabul, in recent weeks, some of which have been claimed by an armed group affiliated with ISIL (ISIS).