More than 40 people were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up in two separate mosque attacks in Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, in the latest violence to rock the country.
In the first attack, on a Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul, at least 32 people including women and children were killed and 41 others wounded when a lone suicide bomber blew himself up as worshippers gathered for evening prayer.
“Unfortunately this evening a suicide bomber detonated himself among the worshippers inside a mosque in Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul city,” Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP.
The interior ministry confirmed the toll of 32 dead and 41 wounded.
Police initially said a gunman entered the Imam Zaman mosque in a heavily Shiite neighbourhood in the west of the city and opened fire on worshippers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bloody attack but recent assaults on Shiite mosques in Afghanistan have been carried out by Islamic State militants, who belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam.
In the second assault, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a Sunni mosque in the impoverished and remote central province of Ghor, killing at least 10 people.
A senior local police commander, who is believed to have been the target of the attack in Dolaina district, was among the dead, district governor Mohsen Danishyar told AFP.
Danishyar put the death toll as high as 30 but Ghor provincial governor Naser Khazeh told AFP that he could only confirm 10 deaths.
Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said at least 15 people were killed and five were injured in the Ghor assault.
The last attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul happened on September 29 as Muslims prepared to commemorate Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.
Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shiite centres in the city, as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.
An attack on another Shiite mosque in the city on August 25 killed 28 people and wounded around 50 others.
Four attackers who set off explosions and fired gunshots laid siege to the mosque in the north of the capital for four hours as dozens of men, women and children had gathered for Friday prayers.
In recent years, the Taliban and Islamic State jihadists have repeatedly targeted the minority Shiite community, who number around three million in overwhelmingly Sunni Afghanistan