On Wednesday a large blast ripped through a centrally located mosque during evening prayers in the Afghan capital of Kabul, with a huge casualty count feared. One or more suicide bombers were reportedly behind the attack.
Within the initial hours following the explosion, at least 10 have been reported dead, including a prominent cleric, according to regional reports. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, ISIS-K has recently stepped up bombings against Taliban targets over the summer, and now reaching a year after the final US military exit from the war-torn country.
CNN cited a top health official for Afghanistan who said, "Following today’s explosion, we admitted 27 patients to our Surgical Centre for War Victims in Kabul, including five minors, one of them a seven-year-old boy." The official noted that "Two patients arrived dead, one died in the emergency room."
Underscoring the growing seriousness and frequency of ISIS-K terror attacks, the official described multiple mass casualty events this month alone:
"In the month of August alone, we managed six mass casualties in our hospital, with a total of almost 80 patients. Throughout the year, we have continued to receive gunshot injuries, shrapnel injuries, stabbing injuries, and victims of mine and IED explosions on a daily basis. The country is suffering the consequences of a very long conflict that has undermined its future."
With emergency crews and police still on the scene, Taliban’s deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi vowed vengeance for the attack. "The murderers of civilians and perpetrators of similar crimes will soon be caught and punished for their actions, God willing," he said in a statement.
ABC News reports of some of the details which emerged late in the day:
According to the eyewitness, a resident of the city's Kher Khanna neighborhood where the Siddiquiya Mosque was targeted, the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber. The slain cleric was Mullah Amir Mohammad Kabuli, the eyewitness said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
He added that more than 30 other people were wounded. The Italian Emergency hospital in Kabul said that at least 27 wounded civilians, including five children, were brought there from the site of the bomb blast.
The casualty count is expected to mount, given a police spokesman said of the blast's high casualties, "the numbers are not clear yet."