Suicide bomber kills dozens at mosque in Afghanistan

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Suicide bomber kills dozens at mosque in Afghanistan

KABUL, Oct 16 Reuters - Taliban authorities pledged to step up security in Afghan mosques after the second attack by worshippers in a week on worshippers killed more than 40 people in the Shi'ite city of Kandahar on Friday.

The hardline sunni Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Fatima mosque in Kandahar which saw a group of suicide bombers shoot their way into the mosque before they blow themselves up among the worshippers.

A health official said the casualty toll from the attack stood at 41 wounded and 70 dead, but the toll could still rise further. Some of the wounded are in critical condition and we are trying to transfer them to Kabul, he said.

The head of the Kandahar police said that units would be assigned to protect local mosques which have so far been guarded by Shi'ite volunteers with special permission to carry weapons.

Unfortunately they could not protect this area and we will ensign special security guards for the protection of mosques and Madrasas, he said in a tweet on Twitter by a Taliban spokesman.

The attack on the Fatima Mosque, the largest Shi'ite mosque in Kunduz, also known as the Imam Bargah Mosques, happened a week after another mosque attack in Kandahar, killing as many as 80 people.

Attacks on Shi'ite mosques and targets associated with the Hazara ethnic minority, who make up the biggest Shi'ite group in Afghanistan, were regular occurrences under the former Western government.

Since August, there has been deep shock as the attacks have continued since the Taliban overruled power, tarnishing the movement's claim to have brought peace to Afghanistan after decades of war.

Since taking over, Islamic State has conducted dozens of operations, from large scale attacks on Taliban targets to small scale operations such as Friday's suicide bombing killing scores of civilians.