11 killed in Afghan Shiite mosque explosion

11 killed in Afghan Shiite mosque explosion

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An explosion claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group at a Shiite mosque in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e- Sharif on Thursday killed 11 people, one of a series of blasts around the country, a health official said.

A separate blast in Kunduz, another northern Afghan city, caused 11 more casualties, according to a provincial health official.

According to statements on the group's Telegram channel, ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The explosions occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and two days after blasts tore through a high school in a predominantly Shi ite Hazara area in western Kabul, killing at least six.

A blast happened in the 2nd district inside a Shiite mosque, Mohammad Asif Wazeri, the spokesman for the Taliban commander in Mazar-e- Sharif, told Reuters.

Zia Zendani, a spokesman for the provincial health authority, said 11 people had been killed and 32 wounded in the blast.

Sunni militant groups, including ISIS, are frequently targeted by the Shiite community, a religious minority in Afghanistan.

The Kunduz hospitals had received 11 killed or wounded people in a separate explosion, according to Najeebullah Sahel, from Kunduz's provincial health authority.

An interior ministry spokesman said a roadside bomb had targeted a van of military mechanics in Kunduz and students were among the wounded. He said he had wounded three, including a child, by a roadside blast in the capital, Kabul.

Wazeri said on Thursday night that Taliban forces had come under attack from unknown gunmen at a property in Mazar-e- Sharif, the provincial capital, and both sides were exchanging gunfire. He did not confirm whether the attackers were linked to the blasts and said their identity was unknown.

The UN Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan on Human Rights, Richard Bennett, condemned the blasts.

More explosions rock Afghanistan systematic attacks on crowded schools and mosques, calling for immediate investigation, accountability and an end to human rights violations, he said on Twitter.

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

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

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August, but international officials and analysts say there is a risk of a resurgence in militancy.