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Kabul Mosque Bombing Kills At Least 12 Despite Eid Cease-Fire

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Afghan officials say a blast at a mosque in a northern Kabul neighborhood killed at least 12 worshippers on the second day of a cease-fire declared by the government and the Taliban.

Fifteen other people were wounded when a bomb exploded inside the mosque during Friday Prayers on May 14, according to Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Framurz.

He said the imam of the mosque -- Mofti Naiman -- was among the dead, adding that initial police investigations suggest he may have been the target of the attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Shakar Darah district, which comes as Afghanistan celebrates the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility.

Many previous attacks in Kabul have been claimed by the local affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group, but the Afghan government has blamed the Taliban for many of them.

The cease-fire took effect on May 13, but four separate bombings killed at least 11 civilians that day.

The cease-fire came as fighting soars ahead of a planned pullout of remaining U.S. and other international forces by September 11.

Last week, a bomb attack killed at least 50 people and wounded another 100 in a largely Shi'ite Hazara neighborhood of Kabul. Most of those killed were young female school students.

Also on May 14, the United States pulled out completely from a major southern air base in the southern province of Kandahar.

"They have not officially handed over the [Kandahar Airfield] to us but I can confirm they left the base on Wednesday," Afghan Army spokesman Khoja Yaya Alawi said.

Sonny Leggett, the U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, later said the handover was “coordinated" with senior Afghan leaders and the military.

Kandahar Airfield was once the second largest base for U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

A number of smaller bases had previously been handed over to Afghan forces.

Despite the withdrawal, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a telephone call to President Ashraf Ghani promised "steadfast support" for Afghan forces as he condemned the recent attacks, the State Department said in a statement.

"Secretary Blinken conveyed Eid greetings and expressed his deepest condolences to the families of those lost in recent violence in Afghanistan, including in the horrific attack on a girls’ school in Kabul last week," the statement said.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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