Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned Friday’s suicide bombings at a Shia mosque in Gardez, in Paktia province killing at least 30 civilians and injuring dozens of others calling the criminal attack “an act against Islam.”
According to Kabul based TOLO News, President Ghani said in a statement issued on Saturday, “Such criminal acts of terrorists among our people cannot create religious divisions, because Afghanistan is exemplary in Islamic unity and religious affiliation in the Islamic countries, and this will remain unchanged forever.”
The reports said that the suicide bombers entered Sahib-ul-Zaman Mosque in Khwaja Hassan area in Gardez’s at around 1:20pm local and first opened fire on worshippers before detonating their suicide vests. Sahib-ul-Zaman is one of the titles of the Shia 12th Imam who is considered to be living but remains hidden.
Meanwhile, country’s Interior Ministry’s deputy spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said that 20 of those wounded are in critical condition and that the death toll may rise.
As there were civilian houses near the mosque, women and children were among the scores of civilian casualties, according to UN sources.
Meanwhile former President Hamid Karzai has also denounced the deadly terrorist attack saying, “Unfortunately, I have been informed that outsiders as part of their machination against the people of Afghanistan have perpetrated yet another inhumane crime and martyred and harmed dozens of our countrymen during Friday’s congregational prayers,” he said.
United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has also condemned the attack by issuing a statement.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan said, “This attack targeting civilians has no possible justification. Those who are responsible for enabling this attack must be brought to justice and held to account.”
Yamamoto’s statement further said: “The attack on Friday is the latest in a pattern of attacks against mosques, particularly Shia religious sites. These brutal and senseless attacks against people at prayer are atrocities. Such attacks directed against congregations and places of worship are serious violations of international law that may amount to war crimes.”
Paktia Police Chief Brigadier General Raz Mohammad Mandozai told TOLOnews that the attack happened inside the mosque during Friday prayers. Eyewitnesses said the attackers used hand grenades against worshippers inside the mosque. The Taliban has denied any involvement in the attack.