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Blast in Kabul mosque, Islamic State bombs in northern Afghanistan kill 14

The Islamic State’s local affiliate claimed responsibility for three minivan bombings in Mazar-e-Sharif, while the mosque explosion also bore the group’s hallmarks.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — A series of explosions shook Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Taliban said, including a blast inside a mosque in the capital, Kabul, that killed at least five worshippers and three bombings of minivans in the country’s north that killed nine passengers.

The Islamic State group’s local affiliate claimed responsibility for the minivan bombings.

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The Kabul Emergency Hospital said it received 22 victims of the mosque bombing, including five dead. There were no further details on the blast that struck the Hazrat Zakaria Mosque in the city’s central Police District 4, according to Khalid Zadran, a Taliban police spokesman in Kabul.

“The blast took place while people were inside the mosque for the evening prayers,” Zadran said, adding that they were waiting for an update.

The minivans were targeted in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif after explosive devices were placed inside the vehicles, according to Mohammad Asif Waziri, a Taliban-appointed spokesman in Balkh province. He said the explosions killed nine and wounded 15.

The IS claim of responsibility was posted on the Sunni militant group’s Aamaq news agency. The statement said IS targeted three buses with improvised explosive devices.

There was no claim of responsibility for the Kabul mosque explosion, but it also bore the hallmarks of the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or IS-K.

The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s new Taliban rulers. Following their takeover when they seized power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August, the Taliban have launched a sweeping crackdown against the IS headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.