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Death Toll From Kabul Mosque Attack Rises To 56


Afghan officials say suicide bombers have killed at least 89 people in two attacks on mosques in Afghanistan, as sectarian and terror-related violence continues to surge in the war-torn country.

The October 20 attacks targeted a Shi'ite mosque in the capital, Kabul, and a Sunni mosque in the central Afghan province of Ghor.

An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said that the death toll in the Kabul attack had risen to at least 56 people.

At least 55 people were also injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up as worshippers were gathering for prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque in the western Dasht-e-Barchi section of the capital.

The extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul.

The attacks come one day after 43 soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban attack on an army camp in the southern province of Kandahar.

In the second attack, officials said at least 33 people were killed and 10 injured when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive in Khewiagan, a Sunni mosque in the district of Dulaina in central Ghor Province.

A local official said an anti-Taliban commander inside the mosque at the time may have been the target of the attack. No claim of responsibility has been made for the attack.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attacks show that "the terrorists have once again staged bloody attacks, but they will not achieve their evil purposes and sow discord among the Afghans."

The United States strongly condemned the October 20 attacks and previous attacks in Afghanistan during a week in which U.S. drones strikes were reported to have killed more than 30 militants in the region.

"In the face of these senseless and cowardly acts, our commitment to Afghanistan is unwavering," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan and will continue to support their efforts to achieve peace and security for their country," she said.

Afghanistan's minority Shi'ite population has been the target of several terror attacks this year that have been blamed on the Taliban and IS.

A previous attack on a Shi'ite mosque in Kabul occurred on September 29 as Muslims prepared to commemorate Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar. Six people were killed in that attack.

A recent United Nations report said at least 84 people had been killed and 194 wounded so far in 2017 in attacks on Shi’ite mosques and religious ceremonies prior to the most recent incidents.

About 90 percent of the Afghan population is Sunni Muslim.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Reuters, AFP, AP, BBC, and Tolo News
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