According to a Taliban official, an explosion at a mosque and religious school in northern Afghanistan killed at least 33 people on Friday, including religious school pupils.

The Taliban’s deputy culture and media minister, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the bombing in Imam Saheb, Kunduz Province, injured another 43 persons, many of whom were students.

No one claimed responsibility right away, but Afghanistan’s Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility on Friday for a series of bombings that occurred the day before, the worst of which was an attack on a Shiite mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif that killed at least 12 Shiite Muslim worshippers and injured dozens more.

Two people were killed and six others were injured at the Malawi Bashir Ahmad Mosque and madrassa compound in Imam Saheb, according to a spokeswoman for the Kunduz province police. “We condemn this crime… and extend our sincere sympathies to the victims,” Mujahid wrote after learning of the rising death toll.

The bombing on Friday is the most recent in a slew of devastating attacks across Afghanistan. The perpetrators of the Kunduz attack were described by Mujahid as “seditionists and wicked individuals.”

The attack was described as “horrific” by the United Nations. “Killings must end now and culprits brought to justice,” stated Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov in a tweet.

The Taliban have been battling the nascent Daesh affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province or IS-K since storming to power last August, proving to be an intractable security dilemma for Afghanistan’s religiously based government.

Last October, the IS-K claimed responsibility for a deadly attack at a Shiite mosque in northern Kunduz province, which killed at least 50 people and injured over 100 others. In eastern Nangarhar province, where the lethal offshoot is located, the Taliban’s intelligence service launched extensive raids on suspected IS-K hideouts in November.

The IS-K alleged in a statement on Friday that the bomb that destroyed Mazar-e-Sai Sharif’s Doken mosque was stashed in a bag left inside among hundreds of worshippers. It detonated as they knelt in prayer.

“The explosives were detonated remotely when the mosque was crowded with prayers,” Daesh said in a statement, alleging that 100 people were injured.

The Taliban claim to have apprehended a former IS-K leader in northern Balkh province, whose capital is Mazar-e-Sharif. Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was arrested in connection with Thursday’s mosque bombing, according to Zabihullah Noorani, the chief of the Balkh province’s communications and cultural department.

Since November, the IS-K has been largely quiet in Afghanistan, but in recent weeks, it has increased its attacks in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, targeting Shiite Muslim populations despised by Sunni militants.
Two bombs burst earlier this month in Kabul’s Shiite district of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing at least seven students and injuring a number of others.

The IS-K established its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan in 2014 and has been responsible for some of Afghanistan’s worst atrocities, including a horrific attack on a maternity facility and a school in 2021, months before the Taliban took power, that murdered more than 80 girls.

In August 2021, the IS-K claimed responsibility for a devastating attack outside Kabul International Airport that killed more than 160 Afghans who were attempting to flee the country. Thirteen US military personnel were also slain as they oversaw America’s ultimate withdrawal from Afghanistan and the conclusion of the country’s 20-year war.

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