Thursday, 21 October 2021

Afghan ceasefire calm shattered as 12 die in mosque blast

AFP Photo/Representational

KABUL – At least 12 people were killed in a mosque blast on the outskirts of the Afghan capital on Friday, shattering the relative calm of a holiday ceasefire between the warring Taliban and government forces.

Among those killed was the imam leading Friday prayers at the mosque on the second day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr. More than a dozen people were injured.

Afghans have been cautiously enjoying a rare respite from violence following the start of a three-day truce between Taliban militants and Afghan forces which began Thursday, after weeks of intense fighting.

“The death toll has jumped to 12 killed, including the imam of the mosque, and 15 others are wounded,” said Ferdaws Framurz, a spokesman for Kabul police, updating an earlier toll.

No group has so far claimed the attack and the Taliban denied responsibility.

Afghan officials regularly blame such blasts on the militant group who in turn insist they are fighting the Afghan military and not attacking civilians.

The blast comes after US and Afghan officials on Friday said the United States had pulled out completely from a major southern air base in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

US airstrikes were launched from the base just last week to help Afghan forces push back a major Taliban offensive in the south.

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