A suicide blast inside a Shi'ite mosque in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz has reportedly killed and wounded at least 100 people in the bloodiest attack since the Taliban took control of most of the country in August.
In a tweet, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed deep concern about the October 8 attack in Khanabad district, citing initial information indicating that "more than 100 people were killed and injured."
The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it "condemns in the strongest terms today’s attack on worshippers at Friday prayers in Kunduz, Afghanistan. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. The Afghan people deserve a future free of terror.
Dost Mohammad Obaida, the provincial deputy police chief, said the majority of the victims had been killed, while Matiullah Rohani, a member of the Taliban-led administration in Kunduz Province, confirmed that the explosion was a suicide attack.
The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group, the local affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released on its Telegram channels, saying that one of its suicide bombers "detonated an explosive vest amid a crowd" of Shi'ite worshippers who had gathered inside the Gozar-e Sayed Abad Mosque for the weekly Friday Prayers.
The statement identified the bomber as "Muhammad al-Uyguri," indicating that he belonged to China's mainly Muslim Uyghur minority.
Video footage showed bodies surrounded by debris inside the building.
Kunduz Cultural Affairs Director Matiullah Rohani told the media that 46 people were killed and 143 were wounded in the attack.
The toll was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi, who said an investigation was under way.
Doctors Without Borders reported that at least 20 people were killed and 90 injured at the Shi'ite mosque in the city of Kunduz.
The bombing follows several attacks in recent weeks, some of which have been claimed by the local affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group -- the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-K).
The attacks have underscored security challenges for the Taliban, which took control of most of the war-torn country in August and has since carried out operations against the IS-K.
In a separate tweet, UNAMA said the October 8 suicide attack was part of a "disturbing pattern of violence" and noted that it was the third attack apparently targeting religious institutions over the past week.
It cited a deadly blast claimed by the IS-K that struck near the entrance of a Kabul mosque on October 3 as mourners left a prayer ceremony dedicated to the dead mother of the Taliban's top spokesman.
Another attack on October 6 that targeted a madrasah in Khost remains unclaimed, the UN mission said.