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Bombing At Mosque, Religious School In Northern Afghanistan Kills 33, Taliban Says

A burqa-clad Afghan woman sits next to a child receiving treatment at a hospital after he was injured in a bomb blast in Kunduz on April 21.

An explosion at a mosque and religious school in northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz region during Friday Prayers has killed at least 33 people, a Taliban official said on April 22.

Students of the school are among the dead, said Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter.

"We condemn this crime...and express our deepest sympathies to the bereaved," he said, calling those who carried out the attack “seditionists and evil elements.”

The blast, which also wounded another 43 people, many of them students, occurred in the town of Imam Saheb in Kunduz Province, he said.

The United Nations called the attack “horrific.” Deputy special representative to Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov said on Twitter that “killings must stop now and perpetrators brought to justice.”

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-K), claimed responsibility for a series of bombings on April 21, the worst of which was an attack on a Shi'ite mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif that killed at least 12 worshippers and left 58 people injured.

The blast on April 22 occurred as people gathered to worship in the mosque, according to eyewitnesses. Shortly after the blast at the mosque there was a large explosion on a road in Kabul. No details were available about the latter explosion.

Recent bombings in Kabul and other Afghan cities have killed dozens of people. IS-K also claimed a separate attack on April 21 in Kunduz city that killed four people and wounded 18.

Taliban authorities said earlier on April 22 that they had arrested the "mastermind" of the bombing at the mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Zabihullah Noorani, head of the Information and Culture Department in Balkh Province, identified the person arrested as Abdul Hamid Sangaryar.

IS-K said in a statement on April 22 the explosive device that devastated the mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshippers. As they knelt in prayer, it exploded.

“When the mosque was filled with prayers, the explosives were detonated remotely," the IS-K statement said.

The IS-K had been relatively inactive in Afghanistan since the Taliban-led government's intelligence unit carried out sweeping attacks on suspected IS-K hideouts in eastern Nangarhar Province in November, but in recent weeks it has stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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