Conflicts & War

At least 4 killed in mosque explosion in Afghan capital

Kabul, Jun 12 (efe-epa).- An explosion at a mosque in western Kabul on Friday killed at least four people, including its imam (leader of prayers), and injured several others, officials said.

The incident occurred when explosives placed inside the premises detonated shortly after 1 pm during the Friday prayers in the Shershah-e-Sori Mosque in the capital’s Police District 3, when hundreds of people had gathered for prayers.

“Based on our initial information, the imam of the mosque and three other prayer holders were martyred and several others were injured in the explosion,” Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian told EFE.

He said the explosives were placed inside the mosque by “the enemies of Islam and Afghanistan,” referring militant groups, without naming a specific group.

No insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

In a separate statement, Arian claimed the attack was “a continuation of the recent crimes by the enemies of Islam and Afghan people against our Ulema (Islamic clerics), sacred places and mosques.”

This attack came just days after another blast on Jun. 2 in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul killed Ayaz Niazi, one of the country’s prominent Islamic clerics, inside a mosque where he had been leading the prayers for years.

These explosions in the capital come amid a significant drop in overall violence across Afghanistan compared to a few months ago.

The goodwill gesture of a cease-fire during the festival of Eid-al-Fitr last month has increased the possibility of intra-Afghan talks between the government and Taliban, required under an agreement the insurgent group signed with the United States in February.

As per the agreement, the US will pull troops out of Afghanistan by mid-2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

However, the process was delayed after the Taliban decided to boycott the negotiations for a prisoner swap with the government, a precondition for starting the intra-Afghan talks.

The exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 of those from the security forces, originally set to commence on Mar. 10, was offset by a dramatic spike in violence and disagreements between the Afghan government and the insurgents.

The insurgents, who had negotiated with the US for a withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, refused to engage in direct talks with Kabul and demanded the release of all 5,000 of their inmates as a precondition.

On the other hand, the Afghan government, which was mostly sidelined from the initial negotiations, had argued against releasing a large number of Taliban prisoners amid increasing violence from the insurgents and without official discussions on the prisoner swap.

The stalemate finally ended on May 28 as the two sides agreed to resume the prisoner swap talks. EFE-EPA


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