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Dozens Killed By Attack On Shi'ite Mosque In Southern Afghanistan

Afghan men inspect the damage inside a Shi'ite mosque in Kandahar on October 15 after a suicide bomb attack during Friday Prayers.

At least 35 people were killed and 68 injured by a series of explosions at a crowded Shi’ite mosque in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar during Friday Prayers, Afghan hospital officials say.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the October 15 attack. But a local affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group -- Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) -- claimed responsibility for a similar bombing that killed scores of Shi'ite worshippers in the northern city of Kunduz a week earlier.

Photographs and mobile phone footage posted by journalists on social media showed many people who were dead or seriously wounded on the bloody floor of Kandahar's Imam Bargah Mosque.

The AP news agency quoted an eyewitness as saying four suicide bombers had attacked the mosque. The witness said two detonated their explosives at a security gate, allowing the other two to run inside the compound and detonate their explosives among the congregation of worshippers.

IS-K, an extremist Sunni group that opposes Afghanistan's Sunni Taliban rulers, considers Shi'ite Muslims to be apostates.

The IS-K has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly bombings that have targeted Shi'ite Muslims across the country since the Taliban seized power in August amid the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

IS-K has also targeted Taliban fighters in smaller attacks.

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said an investigation into the October 15 attack was under way.

Security for the mosque had been provided by guards from the Shi'ite community but that henceforth the Taliban would take charge of its protection, according to Kandahar police chief Maulvi Mehmood.

Taliban authorities have played down the threat from the Islamic State. But repeated attacks have tarnished the group's claim to have brought peace to Afghanistan after decades of war.

The fact that the Shi'ite minority has again been targeted has inflamed tensions among different ethnic and sectarian groups in the Taliban-ruled country.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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