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At Least 29 Killed By Blast, Gun Attack At Shi'ite Mosque In Herat


Afghan security personel inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a Shi'ite mosque in Herat on August .

An Afghan hospital official says at least 29 people have been killed and 63 injured, many of them critically, by a suicide bomber and gunman who attacked a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in the western city of Herat on August 1.

Authorities said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives on the evening of August 1 in front of the Jawadia Mosque in the Dehr Abad area of Herat city.

Tolo-TV reported that a second attacker also opened fire with a rifle against worshippers who were inside the mosque at the time of the blast.

Mohammed Rafique Shahrzad, a hospital official in Herat city, confirmed that the bodies of 20 victims killed by the explosion were brought to the main hospital in the provincial capital soon after the blast.

Shahrzad said nine other injured victims died later on August 1 in the hospital. He said he expected to death toll to climb further because many others had sustained critical injuries.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault.

The Taliban, which usually claims the suicide bombing attacks that its fighters carry out, issued a statement late on August 1 denying any involvement.

The mosque attack in Herat came a day after an assault on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, which was claimed by Islamic State (IS) extremists, killed two people.

In that attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the embassy, allowing at least three other militants to storm inside the compound and launch a gunbattle that lasted several hours.

IS has been expanding its presence in eastern Afghanistan and recently claimed responsibility for several devastating attacks in Kabul.

Some Afghan security officials say IS militants could prove to be more dangerous than Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

RFE/RL's correspondent in Herat reports that hundreds of people gathered outside of the Jawadia Mosque late on August 1 to protest the attack.

Many chanted antigovernment slogans and condemned Afghan authorities for failing to provide security to the Shi'a community.

Shi'a are a minority in Afghanistan who have been threatened and attacked in the past by various Sunni militant groups -- including Islamic State extremists who operate in eastern Afghanistan, Taliban fighters, and Al-Qaeda militants.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Tolo-TV

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