News - Afghanistan
A suicide bomber struck worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in northern Faryab province Friday morning, killing as many as 40 men and wounding up to 50 more, local officials said.
"In today's suicide attack in the Eid Gah mosque of Maimana City of Faryab, 40 people were killed and 50 were wounded. Most of casualties are civilians and a number of security officers were also killed in this attack," said North zone 303 Pamir police spokesperson Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai.
The bomber detonated his explosives around 9:00AM outside the main mosque in Faryab's capital Maimana after the special prayers for the occasion of Eid al-Adha had ended.
It is the deadliest single incident in Afghanistan since the suicide attack on the Shura shrine in Kabul last December where as many as 80 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. That attack was claimed by the Pakistani extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
As many as 19 of those killed in the Faryab bombing are said to be Afghan security forces, according to sources, but this is yet to be confirmed.
"The suicide bomber was at the gate of the mosque. He had a very strong explosive device. Some of dead are security soldiers and officers from the police, army and National Directorate of Security," said Faryab police chief Abdul Khaleq Oqsai who was present at the mosque and witnessed the bombing.
The high number of security forces present was because a number of officials were attending the mosque, including the provincial governor and Faryab members of parliament. No officials were hurt in the attack.
In footage taken after the bombing, a number of elderly men can also be seen among the dead.
Some witnesses say that the bomber was wearing an Afghan police or army uniform, but this has not been officially confirmed.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack saying its perpetrators were enemies of Islam and humanity.
"Those who are taking away the happiness of Muslims during the Id al-Adha days are the enemies of Islam and you cannot call them human or Muslim," he said in the statement released by his office.
Karzai noted that the bombing comes only a day after the grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah said in his Hajj sermon that suicide attacks were against Islam and those who commit such attacks would not be forgiven.
A delegation from the Ministry of Interior including Minister Mujtaba Patang arrived in Maimana City Friday afternoon to conduct further investigation into the incident.
No one including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, it comes a day after the Taliban released a statement confirming the group's shadow governor for Faryab was killed along with seven Talibs in a military operation conducted by the Afghan army on Wednesday.
Some government sources say the Wednesday operation killed as many as 25 insurgents, but an Afghan army source told TOLOnews that eight was correct.
Faryab police chief Oqsai said he believes that bombing was carried out by the local Taliban in retaliation for the deaths.
The New York Times reported that when it contacted the Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi about the Faryab attack, he claimed to not know anything about the bombing and was going to check with the Taliban in the province.
The US Embassy released a statement denouncing the attack and reiterating its pledge to work towards a secure and stable Afghanistan.
"This attack against innocent worshippers further demonstrates the insurgency's lack of respect for religion, faith and its disregard for the safety and security of the Afghan people," the Embassy said.
"We will continue to stand with the Afghan people and government in the pursuit of a stable, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan that no longer has to suffer from terrorist acts."
To watch a short clip of footage from the aftermath of the bombing, click here: