Dr. Ghawsuddin Anwari, head of the main hospital in northern Mazar-e-Sharif, where the explosion occurred, said the dead and wounded were brought in ambulances and private cars. The explosion at the Sai Doken mosque in northern Mazar-e-Sharif occurred as scores of worshippers knelt in prayer as Muslims mark the holy month of Ramadan, when the faithful fast from sunrise to sunset.
Earlier Thursday in the capital, Kabul, a roadside bomb exploded and injured two children. That bomb also targeted the country’s minority Shiites.
While no one took responsibility for either attack, the bombings had all the hallmarks of a deadly Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or IS-K.
Kabul police spokesman, Khalid Zadran, said in a tweet that the explosive went off in the median strip of a road in a western area of Kabul in a mostly Shiite neighborhood. Two days earlier in the same area, multiple explosions targeting educational institutions killed at least six people, mostly children, and wounded 17 others.
Advocates for the minority Hazaras called for a stop to the killings. Hazaras, who make up around 9% of the population of Afghanistan‘s 36 million people, stand alone in being targeted because of their ethnicity - distinct from the other ethnic groups, such as Tajik and Uzbek and the Pashtun majority - and their religion. Most Hazaras are Shiite Muslims, despised by Sunni Muslim radicals like the Islamic State group, and discriminated against by many in the Sunni-majority country.
The Islamic State affiliate has previously targeted schools, particularly in the Shiite-dominated Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood. In May last year, months before the Taliban took power in Kabul, more than 60 children, mostly girls, were killed when two bombs were detonated outside their school, also in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood.
Dasht-e-Barchi and other parts of western Kabul are houses to the Shiite minorities of Afghanistan which have mostly been targeted by the Islamic State affiliate loyalists, however, no one has claimed credit for the recent explosions.
Associated Press Writers Tameem Akhgar and Rahim Faiez in Islamabad contributed to this report
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