Sad! Death toll in Kabul mosque attack rises to 20
A suicide bomb and gun attack claimed by the Islamic State group on a Shiite mosque in Kabul killed 20 people and wounded scores more Friday, officials said, the latest assault to highlight deteriorating security in Afghanistan.
Gunshots and explosions could be heard during the attack that lasted around four hours and witnesses reported seeing worshippers smash windows to escape.
The mosque, in a residential area in the north of the city, was believed to have been packed with dozens of men, women and children when the assailants struck during Friday prayers.
“We have 20 killed and more than 50 wounded,” Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi, a health ministry official, told AFP, without specifying how many were civilians.
Heavily armed security forces stormed the building and rescued more than 100 worshippers, according to the interior ministry, which had initially put the death toll at 12, including 10 civilians and two security force personnel.
It had also put the number of wounded at more than 40 civilians and seven security forces.
“The attack is over and the site has been cleaned up by our police,” deputy spokesman Najib Danish told AFP, confirming three attackers were killed by security forces.
He told Afghan media that police “blew up a wall behind the building to get in and rescue people”.
Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP a suicide bomber “detonated himself inside the mosque” .
People gathered outside had tried to call women and children trapped inside but their mobile phones were not responding, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
“Our relatives have been stranded inside the mosque… We believe they have been held hostage by the gunmen. We are very concerned about their safety and may God help us and rescue our loved ones,” one of the onlookers said.
Eyewitnesses described horrific scenes inside the mosque as the attackers ran short of bullets and began “using knives to stab worshippers”.
Others said the attackers had been armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers and had holed themselves up in the women’s section of the mosque.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly assault via its propaganda agency.
“Two ‘inghimasi’ of the Islamic State carried out an attack on a husseiniya (Shiite place of worship) in the Khair Khana sector of the Afghan city of Kabul,” Amaq said, using the terms for suicide bombers who set off explosive vests as a last resort against gunfire. Punch