Alwaght- Death toll from ISIS terrorist group's attack on a Mosque in the Afghan capital topped to at least 28 including women and children, the chief of Kabul’s hospitals said Saturday.
Two assailants blew themselves up among Friday prayers of a Shiite mosque in northern Kabul and another two were shot dead by Afghan security forces, according to police. Kabul hospital chief Mohammad Salim Rasouli said more than 50 people were wounded in the attack that went on for hours.
The Interior Ministry said four of the dead were police.
Terrified worshippers endured about four harrowing hours of gunfire and explosions before the four attackers were killed.
Security forces surrounded the mosque in the northern Kabul neighborhood but did not initially enter to prevent further casualties to the many worshippers inside, police said. Later, as police tried to advance, one of the attackers set off an explosion that forced them to withdraw.
The cleric who was performing the prayers was among the dead, said Mir Hussain Nasiri, a member of Afghanistan’s Shiite clerical council. The gunmen had taken over both the cavernous prayer hall for the men and the separate, second-floor prayer area for the women, he said.
When police initially tried to get inside, they discovered the militants had blocked the door leading to the second floor, turning the women upstairs into hostages, Nasiri said.
Hundreds of family members, relatives and local people participated in the burial of about two dozen victims inside the mosque compound Saturday.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the violence and said the militants were turning to attacking places of worship because they were losing on the battlefield. He urged Islamic clerics everywhere to condemn the bloodshed.
ISIS's affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility. ISIS-linked Aamaq website said on Friday two of its fighters carried out the assault. It did not give further details.
The attack was the latest by ISIS to hit the Afghan capital. Last month it hit the Iraqi embassy in Kabul and afterwards issued a warning to all Shia in Afghanistan, saying its cadres would attack Shiite places of worship.
Within days of the embassy attack, ISIS also took responsibility for a suicide assault on a Shiite mosque in western Herat province that killed 32 people.
Afghanistan has been torn by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion of the US and its allies. ISIS has also emerged there more recently.