More than 50 killed in Afghan mosque blast

Kabul: A powerful explosion killed more than 50 worshippers after Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, its leader said, the latest in a series of attacks on civilian targets in Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The blast hit the Khalifa Sahib mosque in the west of the capital in the early afternoon, according to Besmullah Habib, the deputy spokesperson for the interior ministry.

Hundreds of worshippers had gathered for prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramdan and the Khalifa Aga Gul Jan Mosque was packed, said local residents, fearing the casualty toll could rise further.

Sayed Fazil Agha, the head of the mosque, said someone they believed was a suicide bomber joined them in the ceremony and detonated explosives.

‘Black smoke rose and spread everywhere, dead bodies were everywhere,’ he told Reuters, adding that his nephews were among the dead. ‘I myself survived, but lost my beloved ones.’

Emergency Hospital in downtown Kabul said it was treating 21 patients and two were dead on arrival. A nurse at another hospital said it had received several wounded in critical condition.

Reports said hospitals had so far received at least 30 bodies in total. A spokesman for the ruling Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, released a statement condemning the blast and saying the perpetrators would be found and punished.