Afghanistan: six dead in attack on mosque, claimed by ISIS

The Islamic State group in Khorasan (EI-K) claimed responsibility, on the night of Tuesday April 30 to Wednesday May 1, for an armed attack which left six people dead in a mosque in Herat, in western Afghanistan

Afghanistan: six dead in attack on mosque, claimed by ISIS

The Islamic State group in Khorasan (EI-K) claimed responsibility, on the night of Tuesday April 30 to Wednesday May 1, for an armed attack which left six people dead in a mosque in Herat, in western Afghanistan. In a message on Telegram, the regional branch of the jihadist group said it had carried out “a machine gun attack” on Monday evening in this Shiite mosque which “in particular killed their imam”.

The Afghan Interior Ministry had announced the day before that on Monday “at 9 p.m., an unidentified person fired on worshipers in a mosque in the Guzara district of Herat.” “Six civilians were killed, another injured,” ministry spokesperson Abdul Matin Qani reported on the social network X.

The mosque attack took place about a 40-minute drive south of the provincial capital Herat. Afghanistan is frequently shaken by EI-K attacks, and the Shiite community is frequently targeted by deadly attacks in the country, the toll of which is often downplayed by the Taliban authorities.

Three attackers

Sayed Murtaza Hussaini, 23, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he rushed to the Imam Zaman Mosque after receiving a call informing him of the attack. “It happened in the middle of prayer, but the number of worshipers was very limited,” he said. “Those in the mosque were either killed or injured.”

“Five people died before reaching the hospital, including a three-year-old child, and three were injured,” he said, adding “[then] one of the injured died.” According to him, the attack was carried out by an attacker, two accomplices remaining in their vehicle.

Ibrahim Akhlaqi, 60, explained to AFP that the killed imam, Javid, was his brother. He too was notified by a phone call. “When I got to the hospital, he was already dead,” he said. “We demand the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] to stop the killers,” he added. He also reported three attackers, but said “one stayed outside and the other two entered the mosque and shot worshipers.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Manua) condemned this attack and called for an investigation to find the culprits. She estimated, on the social network X, that “measures to protect the Shiite community in Afghanistan were urgent”.

Iran ready to strengthen its cooperation

Iran's Shiite neighbor on Tuesday condemned the "terrorist attack" on the Herat mosque. The Iranian embassy in Afghanistan demanded, on X, that “the perpetrators be identified and punished.” Iran, the embassy added, “is ready to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism.”

EI-K claimed responsibility for an explosive attack on a minibus on April 21 in a district of Kabul which left one dead and three injured. A month before, a suicide attack in the southern city of Kandahar, claimed by IS, left three dead according to official sources, but twenty according to a hospital source contacted by AFP. The suicide bomber had triggered his explosive belt in front of a bank where there were many civil servants who had come to collect their salaries, in this historic stronghold of the Taliban.

While security has generally returned to Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, hundreds of people have since been killed or injured in attacks, often targeting civilians, and most often perpetrated by EI-K.