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Many Killed In Mosque Blasts In Eastern Afghanistan


An injured man is taken to a hospital after the bomb blast at the mosque.

At least 62 people have been killed and dozens wounded in an explosion during Friday Prayers at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the October 18 attack in Nangarhar Province, which came after the United Nations said the number of civilian deaths in the war-torn country had reached "unprecedented" levels over the summer.

"Such intentional killing of scores of civilians while at prayer is a war crime," Amnesty International said. "This is not a war that is winding down, it is escalating and the people who are suffering the most are civilians."

Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Nangarhar Province's governor, said the 62 people killed and 36 more wounded in the blast were worshippers.

Zarghon Shinwary, a doctor at the local hospital, confirmed the death toll to RFE/RL.

It was not immediately clear if the mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber or some other type of bombing, according to Khogyani, who said the roof of the building fell due to the force of the explosion.

Some reports said a mortar shell had hit the roof.

Haska Mena district
Haska Mena district

Zahir Adil, spokesman for the public health department in Nangarhar Province, said there were children among both the killed and wounded in the attack.

The number of casualties may rise as rescuers are working to bring out the bodies from the rubble, according to a provincial council member, Sohrab Qaderi.

The mosque sits in the Haska Mina district, about 50 kilometers from the provincial capital, Jalalabad.

Afghan news agency Tolo quoted local officials as saying there had been two explosions.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar.

The Taliban condemned the bombing, calling it a “major crime.”

In a tweet, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass condemned the "unconscionable" attack against the worshippers.

"All Afghans have the right to live and worship together in safety," he wrote.

In the western province of Herat, six civilians, including four children, were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, a spokesman for the provincial governor said on October 18.

Jelani Farhad added that five other civilians were wounded in the October 17 attack in the Zawal district.

In a report released on October 17, the UN said 1,174 civilians had been killed between July and September, with July being the deadliest month for a decade.

In a statement, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich said the “killing and maiming of Afghan civilians demands the world’s attention."

"Flagrant violations of international humanitarian law such as deliberate targeting of civilians are not something anyone should get used to or learn to ignore. There must be a determined effort to protect civilians, ensure respect for international humanitarian law, and hold the perpetrators accountable," he added.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and the BBC