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Suicide bomb attack near Shiite mosque in Kabul

An Afghan policeman stands guard outside the ul-Uloom mosque ahead of Ashura in Kabul
AFP

Kabul (AFP) – A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Shiite mosque in Kabul on Friday, police said, as Muslims prepare to celebrate one of the holiest dates in the Islamic calendar.

“A suicide bomber who was grazing sheep has detonated himself outside” the mosque, General Salim Almas, criminal investigative director of Kabul city, told AFP.

Almas did not have any information about casualties but a photo posted on Twitter purportedly taken at the scene of the attack shows a man lying on the ground, covered in blood.

The explosion happened as worshippers were leaving a Shiite mosque in the north of the city after Friday prayers. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban and Islamic State jihadists, who belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam, have repeatedly targeted the minority Shiite community in recent years.

There had been fears they would strike again as Shiites prepare to commemorate Ashura which falls this weekend and is the most important Shiite observance.

It falls on the 10th day of Muharram, which is the mourning period for the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

The faithful gather to beat their chests and hit their backs with chains until they bleed in commemoration of Hussein’s death.

But in recent years the sacred day has been marred by deadly violence.

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