Witness Says 4 Suicide Bombers Targeted Mosque Containing Hundreds for Prayers, Killing 47

Four suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque containing hundreds of people gathered for prayers on Friday in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 47 people and wounding 70, witnesses said.

An Afghan man by the name of Murtaza said he was inside the mosque during the attack and reported four explosions, the Associated Press reported. Two occurred outside the mosque and the other two inside. He said Friday prayers typically draw hundreds of people.

The Taliban's chief for Kandahar's department of culture and information, Hafiz Sayeed, gave an update saying that 47 people had been killed and at least 70 wounded in the attack.

Another Taliban official, Bilal Karimi, gave an earlier report that said at least 32 were dead and 68 wounded.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mosque Bombing
Four suicide bombers attacked a mosque filled with hundreds of people on Friday, a witness reported, killing 47 people. Above, a burqa-clad woman walks past the entrance to a Shiite mosque in Kandahar on October 15, 2021, after the attack. Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the carnage at the Fatimiya mosque in Kandahar province. It came a week after a bombing claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan.

The sectarian bloodletting has raised fears that the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)—an enemy of both the Taliban and the West—is expanding its foothold in Afghanistan.

Another witness, also named Murtaza, was in charge of security at the mosque and said he saw two bombers. He said one detonated explosives outside the gate, and the other was already among the worshippers inside the mosque.

He said the mosque's security personnel shot another suspected attacker outside.

Video footage showed bodies scattered across bloodstained carpets, with survivors walking around in a daze or crying out in anguish.

ISIS, which like Afghanistan's ruling Taliban is made up of Sunni Muslims, views Shiite Muslims as apostates deserving of death.

ISIS has claimed a number of deadly bombings across the country since the Taliban seized power in August amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The group has also targeted Taliban fighters in smaller attacks.

If the attack was carried out by ISIS, it would be the first major assault by the extremist group in southern Afghanistan since the U.S. departure enabled the Taliban to consolidate control of the country. Recent attacks in the north, the east and the Afghan capital have cast doubt on the Taliban's ability to counter the threat posed by ISIS.

The Taliban has pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war and have also given the U.S. assurances that they will not allow the country to be as a base for launching extremist attacks on other countries.

The Taliban has pledged, too, to protect Afghanistan's Shiite minority, which was persecuted during the last period of Taliban rule, in the 1990s.

The Taliban and ISIS adhere to a rigid interpretation of Islamic law, but ISIS is far more radical. It has better-known branches in Iraq and Syria.

Afghanistan Mosque Bombing
Suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that was packed with worshippers attending Friday prayers, killing 47 people. Above, people inspect the inside the mosque in Kandahar on October 15, 2021. Sidiquallah Khan/AP Photo