A well-known imam and a worshipper were killed and two others injured in a prayer-time bombing at a popular mosque in Kabul’s fortified Green Zone on Tuesday, according to an Afghan officials
The recent attack in the Afghan capital came after seven civilians were killed in the north of the country in a roadside bomb blast authorities blamed on the Taliban.
No group has claimed the responsibility for the evening explosion in central Kabul, which took place at one of the city’s most famous places of worship.
Interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told media,”Unfortunately, this evening some explosives placed by terrorists in Wazir Akbar Khan mosque detonated”.
The mosque is located at the main entrance to the Green Zone and is accessible from both inside and outside the tightly controlled area. Top leaders often go there to offer ceremonial prayers.
The mosque’s imam, Ayaz Niazi, was among those killed, Arian said.
Initally, Arian had said that the attack was conducted by a suicide bomber. But as investigations proceeded, it was not clear that remained the case.
President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman condemned the incident, calling it, “heinous” attack.
On Saturday, a journalist and a studio technician were killed after a TV channel vehicle hit an IED in Kabul.
The attack came soon after a truce that was put in effect for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr by the Taliban and Afghan national security forces. The truce ended on Tuesday.
At least nine journalists were killed while reporting from the scene of a suicide bombing in April 2018, when a second bomber detonated his explosives after waiting for first responders to arrive at the scene.
Last month, an unknown number of attackers stormed a mosque in northern Parwan province, killed 11 worshipers and wounded several others.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s deadliest places for journalists, who face many risks covering the country’s long conflict and who have sometimes been targeted for doing their job.
President Ghani had welcomed the Taliban ceasefire offer and authorities responded by announcing around 2,000 Taliban prisoners would be released in a “goodwill gesture” with a view to kick starting peace talks.
Afghanistan’s former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has been appointed to lead the talks, has said his team was ready to begin negotiations “at any moment”.
On Monday, Ghani spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo via video conference and discussed the Afghan peace process.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that Ghani and Pompeo also discussed the next steps towards peace, including the release of prisoners, the analysis and location of negotiations, and other peace-related measures.
Pompeo and Ghani agreed to work on the details of the peace process in the coming days, with the Afghan government in particular emphasizing the undeclared ceasefire mechanism that sets out the rules of the game, Sediqqi added.
Violence had surged after the Taliban signed a landmark agreement with the United States in February, which paves the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May next year.