(Update 3: changes dateline; re-ledes with ISIS claim of responsibility)
Cairo, Oct 16 (EFE).- Islamic State claimed responsibility early Saturday for a suicide bombing the previous day at a Shia mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar that killed at least 40 people and injured 75.
Two men carried out the attack on the Imam Bargah mosque, according to a statement issued on behalf of the Afghan branch of the jihadi group, known as ISIS-K.
After shooting the security guards, the statement said, “the first suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest … in an a mosque hallway, while the second suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest in the mosque’s center.”
The Imam Bargah mosque is the largest Shiite place of worship in Kandahar and residents told Efe that the explosion took place around 1:00 pm as hundreds were gathering to offer congregational prayers.
“As of now we have confirmed 40 dead and 75 injured, but the real number (of injured) is higher because some families took casualties to their homes and they have not been counted,” Muqtada Miran, a local lawmaker, told EFE.
Interior ministry spokesperson Qari Saeed Khosty told EFE that the blast tore through the mosque “of our Shia brothers” leaving many dead and injured.
Taliban special forces were deployed to secure the blast site and start the probe.
Videos posted online by journalists and witnesses showed bloodied bodies scattered on the ground along with debris.
The Taliban, who took control of the country on Aug. 15, confirmed the attack but did not release official data about the casualties.
The attack in Kandahar came a week after an ISIS-K suicide bomber killed at least 80 people and wounded around 100 during midday prayers at a Shia mosque in Kunduz province.
ISIS-K has carried multiple assaults since the withdrawal of the United States troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 30.
Shiites, especially members of the Hazara ethnic minority, are frequent targets for ISIS-K, which also claimed responsibility for an Aug. 26 suicide bombing near the Kabul airport that killed nearly 200 people, including 13 US Marines.
The Taliban have launched massive operations against ISIS-K in a number of Afghan provinces, aiming to finish off what they consider the main threat to their government. EFE se-ijm-lk-hbs-ssk/jt/dr