*** Warning – Graphic images ***
A Shiite mosque in northeastern Afghanistan was attacked by a suicide bomber during prayer services on Friday, killing at least 43 people and injuring over 100 according to local officials. The Islamic State swiftly claimed responsibility for the blast.
Photos taken inside the Said Abad mosque after the attack showed it littered with corpses and body parts. Local security officials said at least 300 people were packed inside the building when the bomber detonated his suicide vest.
Taliban officials told the independent Tolo News the death toll stood at 43 on Friday afternoon, while the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said over 100 might have been killed. Reuters quoted two unidentified “health officials” who said the number killed was “likely between 70 and 80.”
“They were struggling to deal with the human remains scattered throughout the back yard of the mosque. They expect the death toll to further climb in further hours because they say many people who were injured are in critical condition,” an Al Jazeera reporter said of eyewitnesses in Kunduz.
The Islamic State, whose semi-autonomous Afghanistan franchise is known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), claimed responsibility for the attack using its channels on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram.
“I assure our Shia brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Kunduz deputy police chief Dost Mohammad Obaida told Al Jazeera on Friday.
Al Jazeera predicted the attack would “put more pressure on the Taliban” to deliver on their promise of “providing a safe environment for the Afghan people,” while ISIS-K appears to be sending a message that “they are far from defeated, that they are willing to further expand their footprint across Afghanistan.”
All of Friday’s casualty estimates would make the Kunduz attack the highest body-count terrorist attack in Afghanistan since the bombing of the Kabul airport during President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal, an attack that killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and 169 Afghans.