Sep 2, 2022 - World

Blast at Afghanistan mosque kills at least 18, including senior cleric

Taliban fighters block a road after a blast during the Friday prayer in Gazargah mosque, in Herat on September 2, 2022.

Taliban fighters block a road after a blast during the Friday prayers in Gazargah Mosque in Herat. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

An explosion at a crowded mosque in the western Afghanistan city of Herat killed at least 18 people, including a senior cleric with close ties to the Taliban, AP reports, citing officials.

The big picture: The blast, which also injured at least 21 people, took place as worshippers gathered for Friday noon prayers at Herat’s Guzargah Mosque. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

  • A Taliban spokesperson confirmed Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari, the pro-Taliban cleric, was among those killed in a "brutal attack" in Herat.
  • Before the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover, Ansari was known as a staunch critic of Afghanistan's Western-backed government.

State of play: The Taliban have said they've improved the security situation since retaking control of the country in August 2021, but there have been a string of attacks in recent months, AP notes.

  • Another pro-Taliban cleric, Rahimullah Haqqani, was killed in a suicide bomb blast claimed by ISIS last month.

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