Jalalabad: Officials said that at least 3 people were killed and 15 injured in an explosion in a mosque in the volatile Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Friday. This is a hotbed of Islamic State activities.
The bombing-which has not yet been claimed by any organization-highlighted one of the many challenges facing the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which the United Nations warned that the country is also on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
It happened during Friday prayers in Spin Ghar district of the eastern province, near the border with Pakistan.
“I can confirm a blast during Friday prayers inside a mosque in Spin Ghar district. There are casualties and fatalities,” a Taliban official told AFP.
Walli Mohammed, a local elder and activist, told AFP a bomb appeared to have been hidden in a loudspeaker near the imam s rostrum.
When the speaker was switched on to sound the azaan — the call to begin the prayer ritual — the device detonated, he said.
“So far three killed, 15 wounded,” a doctor at the local hospital told AFP.
The Islamic State Khorasan is a local branch of the jihadist organization. It first appeared in Nangarhar and was officially recognized by the central leadership of the organization in 2015.
The organization is relatively small but influential in Afghanistan, and is responsible for some of the most deadly attacks in the country in recent years, killing civilians in mosques, shrines, public squares and even hospitals.
But it failed to occupy any territory in the region and suffered huge losses due to military operations led by the Taliban and the United States.
Although both the Islamic State and the Taliban are hardline Sunni radical Islamic organizations, their differences on religious and strategic issues have led to fierce battles between the two.
Since the Taliban regained power in August, IS has claimed responsibility for a series of bloody attacks, including an attack in Kabul Airport in which the United States and other countries rushed to evacuate their citizens and Afghan allies from the country.
Among the dozens of people killed in action, there were 13 American soldiers. This is the largest single-day loss that the Pentagon has suffered in Afghanistan since 2011.
In the most recent attack, IS fighters attacked the Kabul National Military Hospital in early November, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 50 others.
The Taliban did not have the complex intelligence collection and surveillance of IS-K deployed by foreign troops with little external assistance.
But experts say they know their enemy and the terrain, and can draw on groups such as Al-Qaeda and the feared Haqqani network to challenge the group.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid recently dismissed them as “not a great threat”.
The security challenge comes as the United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world s worst humanitarian crisis.
More than half the country faces “acute” food shortages, with the impending winter forcing millions to choose between migration and starvation.