Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bomber attack at a Shi’ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar which left dozens killed and injured, a statement posted by the group’s Amaq news agency said on Friday.
The statement added that two Islamic state fighters shot the guards of the mosque dead, broke in and blew themselves up between two groups of worshippers, one of which consisted of around 300 people.
It was the second week in a row that militants bombed Friday prayers and killed dozens of worshippers.
On Friday, suicide bombers attacked a Shi’ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least 35 people, the second week in a row that militants bombed Friday prayers and killed dozens of worshippers from the minority sect.
The attacks have caused shock and terror among members of Afghanistan’s Shi’ite minority and undermine the ruling Taliban movement’s claim to have restored security since taking control of the country in August.
“When I arrived at the mosque, I saw injured, dead bodies, and people who had fallen on top of each other,” said Haji Sarwar Hazara, a local construction contractor who arrived soon after the blast.
“I do not know who did this work, it is the enemy of Islam. But they cannot bring differences among Muslims,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said security forces had been ordered to capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice under Islamic law.
Sunni Muslim fighters of Islamic State have repeatedly targeted Shi’ites in the past with large-scale attacks intended to kill civilians, including one that killed scores of schoolgirls in a Shi’ite district of Kabul in May last year.
The Taliban are also strict Sunni Muslims but consider Islamic State their enemy and have pledged to protect all ethnic and sectarian groups since sweeping to power in August as U.S. forces withdrew.
The embassy of Iran, Afghanistan’s neighbour and the region’s largest Shi’ite power, condemned the attack.
“We hope Taliban leaders take decisive action against these wicked terrorist incidents,” it said in a Twitter post.