Bomb explodes in Eastern Afghanistan mosque
Taliban authorities in Afghanistan said a bomb ripped through a crowded mosque in eastern Nangarhar province Friday during afternoon prayers, wounding at least 15 worshippers.
Provincial government spokesman Mohammad Hanif told VOA the explosive device was planted inside the mosque, but he said there were no deaths.
Eyewitnesses reported a much higher casualty toll, however. The mosque in the Spin Ghar district was attended by Sunni Muslims.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombing in an Afghan province where militants linked to the regional affiliate of Islamic State known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province conduct nearly daily bombings and shootings against Taliban forces and civilians.
IS-Khorasan has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in parts of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul, since the Taliban took over the country in mid-August. The violence has killed and injured hundreds of people, mostly members of the minority Shi’ite community.
The Taliban have responded by launching operations against suspected IS-Khorasan hideouts in a bid to suppress the terrorist threat.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Taliban intelligence agency told reporters in Kabul their counterterrorism campaign had rounded up 600 IS-Khorasan militants, including key commanders, and killed close to 40 others.
U.S. officials expressed skepticism when asked for comment on Taliban successes against IS operatives in Afghanistan.
“We have seen the Taliban claims,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the unverified claims. “We note that ISIS-K remains a resilient enemy.”
“It is clearly in the Taliban’s interest to continue to focus their efforts on eliminating this virulent terrorist group,” the spokesperson added.
Friday’s bombing came on a day when Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told an audience during his ongoing visit to neighboring Pakistan that his interim government has brought political stability and security to all of Afghanistan in a short period of time.