At least 14 dead after series of explosions in Afghanistan, Taliban say


A series of explosions rocked Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Taliban said, including an explosion inside a mosque in the capital Kabul that killed at least five worshipers and three bombings of minivans in the north of the country which killed nine passengers.

Kabul Emergency Hospital said it had received 22 victims of the mosque bombing, including five dead. There were no further details of the blast that hit the Hazrat Zakaria Mosque in the city’s Central Police District 4, according to Taliban police spokesman Khalid Zadran in Kabul.

“The blast happened while people were inside the mosque for evening prayers,” Zadran said, adding that they were awaiting an update.

The minivans were targeted in the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif after explosive devices were planted inside the vehicles, according to Mohammad Asif Waziri, a spokesman appointed by the Taliban in Balkh province. He said the blasts left nine people dead and 15 injured.

All of the Mazar-e-Sharif victims were from the country’s Shia Muslim minority, according to a police official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to give details to the media.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, but they had characteristics of the Islamic State group’s regional affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or IS-K.

The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the biggest security challenge facing the country’s new Taliban leadership. After seizing power when they seized power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August, the Taliban launched a massive crackdown on IS headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.