Alwaght- At least 30 people were killed and 80 others wounded in a terrorist attack on a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Friday.
According to witnesses, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the mosque in Gardez City of Paktia province.
Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the Provincial Governor said the bomber slipped undetected through a side door. The mosque was packed with worshippers attending weekly Friday prayers.
Wilayat Khan Ahmadzai, the head of Gardez city's public health department, said the attack struck during Friday prayers and raised fears over mounting casualties.
Interior Ministry’s deputy spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said 20 of those wounded are in critical condition and that the death toll may rise. The eyewitnesses said there were at least 600 people inside the mosque when the attacks happened.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban have denied involvement. The ISIS terrorist group’ affiliate in Afghanistan has repeatedly targeted Shiite Muslim worshippers in the past. The affiliate has also warned Afghanistan’s minority Shiites that their houses of worship would be targeted.
The attack comes as urban areas across Afghanistan have been rocked by an increasing number of attacks.
According to the UN, a total of 1,692 people have been killed in the first half of 2018, with another 3,430 people wounded - the highest figure since it began keeping records in 2009.
Afghanistan is still suffering from insecurity and violence years after the US and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. US-led forces continue to occupy the country amid an upsurge of terrorist attacks by ISIS and Taliban groups and an unprecedented increase on narcotics production.