Imam At Kabul Mosque Believed Targeted in Bombing That Killed 12

An imam at a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan was among 12 that were killed Friday after an explosive device went off and a police investigation suggests that he might have been the target in the attack.

So far, responsibility has not yet been claimed for the bombing that killed imam Mofti Noman and others while injuring 15 additional worshippers, according to Afghan police. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the Taliban's responsibility while on day two out of their three-day declared cease-fire they announced for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr this week.

"I was afraid of a second explosion so I came immediately to my home," said worshipper Muhibullah Sahebzada who mentioned that the bomb seemed to be hidden inside the mosque's pulpit.

Mujahid denounced the bombing and blamed Afghanistan's intelligence agency for the deadly explosion as it is typical of the Taliban and the Afghan government to cast blame on the other for attacks. Recently, there has been a surge of violence within the country and the Islamic State's local affiliate in the country has claimed responsibility for many instances of violence in Kabul.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Mosque in Kabul
Muslim devotees offer prayers to start the Eid-al-Fitr festival marking the end of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan during a three-day ceasefire agreed by the warring Taliban and Afghan forces, at the Abdul Rahman Mosque in Kabul on May 13, 2021. At a separate mosque in Kabul, an explosion went off Friday that killed 12 people including the mosque's imam who might have been the target, according to Afghan police. Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The bombing is the latest in a surge in violence as U.S. and NATO troops have begun their final withdrawal from the country, after 20 years of war.

According to Afghan police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz, the bomb exploded as prayers had begun.

Mujahid denied any insurgent connection to the mosque attack.

The attackers are rarely identified, and the public is seldom informed of the results of investigations into the many attacks in the capital.

Sahebzada said he had just stepped into the building when the explosion went off. Stunned, he heard the sound of screams, including those of children, as smoke filled the mosque.

Sahebzada said he saw several bodies on the floor, and at least one child was among the wounded.

An image circulating on social media shows three bodies lying on the floor of the mosque.

Eid al-Fitr follows the fasting month of Ramadan. The Afghan government has also said it would abide by a truce during the holiday.
Last week, a powerful car bombing attack in Kabul killed over 90 people, many of them students leaving a girls' school. The Taliban denied involvement and condemned the attack.

Earlier this week, U.S. troops left southern Kandahar Air Base, where some NATO forces still remain. At the war's peak, more than 30,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Kandahar, the Taliban heartland. The base in Kandahar was the second largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, after Bagram north of Kabul.