Dozens Killed in Suicide Bombing at Afghanistan Mosque

Dozens Killed in Suicide Bombing at Afghanistan MosqueDozens Killed in Suicide Bombing at Afghanistan Mosque

Thirty-nine people were killed in a suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in eastern Afghanistan, and the death toll may climb further, according to police and government officials.

Two burka-clad militants attacked the mosque in the city of Gardez in the province of Paktia where more than 100 people had gathered to offer prayers, said Raz Mohammad Mandozai, the police chief of Paktia.

At least 80 people were injured when the men struck with guns and explosives at the Khawaja Hassan mosque, reported NBC News.

Gardez city hospital reported receiving at least 50 adults and 20 children wounded in the attack.

Abdullah Hazrat, a senior government official, said the militants opened fire on the worshippers and one blew himself up. Security guards stationed at the mosque gunned down the other militant.

According to an eyewitness, the assailants had entered the prayer hall and were wearing full-face veils.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Friday attack but the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Shia mosques in Afghanistan.

The attack underlines the country’s dire security situation after four decades of war and 17 years of US intervention. The IS increasingly claims responsibility for attacks on civilian targets even as pressure builds for peace talks between the western-backed government and the Taliban.

  UN Condemnation

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan denounced the attack. “This attack targeting civilians has no possible justification,” said UNAMA chief, Tadamichi Yamamoto, who also serves as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, UN News reported.

“Those who are responsible for enabling this attack must be brought to justice and held to account.”

International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian property, including places of worship. It also commits warring parties to allow religious leaders to serve their communities without fear of attack.

“These brutal and senseless attacks against people at prayer are atrocities,” said Yamamoto.

“Such attacks directed against congregations and places of worship are serious violations of international law that may amount to war crimes,” he stressed.

The latest terrorist assault comes on the heels of a suicide attack and hostage-taking at a government building on Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

According to mid-July figures from UNAMA, 1,692 civilians had been killed and another 3,430 injured in the first six months of the year. This sets a record high for the first six months of any year, despite an unprecedented days-long ceasefire between the government and Taliban in mid-June.

  Unjustifiable Crime

The Security Council also issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms, the heinous and cowardly terrorist attacks” that took place over the past week.

The council reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”

Stressing the need that “perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism” be held accountable and brought to justice, they urged all states, “in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.”

The council reiterated that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

Finally, they reaffirmed the need for all states to combat by all means, in accordance with the UN Charter and other obligations under international law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

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