The death toll from a suicide attack at a minority Shia mosque in the western Afghan province of Herat has soared to 50, Jalani Farhad, the provincial governor’s spokesman, has told Al Jazeera.
Mehdi Hadid, a lawmaker from Herat, who went to the site soon after the explosion told The Associated Press that the scene was one of horrific carnage. He estimated at least 100 dead and wounded were scattered throughout the Jawadia Mosque.
“At around 8:00pm (1530 GMT) tonight, a terrorist attack was carried out on a mosque in the third security district of Herat city,” Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada told AFP news agency.
“Based on our initial information two terrorists were involved one of them wearing a suicide vest, who detonated himself while the second one was armed with a rifle. They are both dead,” he added.
More than 50 people are believed to have been wounded. Many of them were brought to the main hospital in Herat city, the capital of the province.
The attack took place in the middle of evening prayers when the mosque was packed with about 300 worshippers.
Packed with worshipers
Hadid said he rushed to the mosque after hearing about the explosion. He was told the attacker first fired on the private guards outside the mosque before entering. When inside, he fired on the praying worshippers until his rifle jammed then he blew himself up.
Dozens of local residents, who are mostly Shias, attacked the police station pelting it with stones and setting it on fire, said Jalani Farhad, the provincial governor’s spokesman.
Shias are a minority in Afghanistan and have been threatened by the affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group that operates in the country’s east.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi has denied responsibility for the deadly attack.
The explosion at the mosque comes a day after an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, which was claimed by the ISIL group also known as ISIS, killed two people.
|The explosion at the mosque comes a day after an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul [Photo courtesy: Bilal Sarwary]|