Afghanistan: 20 dead in mosque blast

A suicide bomb tore through a mosque in Kandahar June 1 at the funeral of Mullah Abdul Fayaz, a Muslim cleric who spoke out against the Taliban, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens. Hundreds of mourners were crowded inside the Mullah Abdul Fayaz Mosque in the center of the city when the bomb went off. Kabul’s police commander, Gen. Akram Khakrezwal was among the dead. Mullah Fayaz, a supporter of President Hamid Karzai, was shot dead in Kandahar on May 29 by suspected Taliban gunmen–a week after he led a call for people not to support the rebels.

In a second attack west of Kandahar June 1, a bomb exploded on a bridge as a group of Afghan de-miners were driving over it, killing two and wounding five others, said Patrick Fruchet, spokesman for the UN Mine Action Center for Afghanistan.

Kandahar has been hit by bombings before. On March 17, a roadside blast killed five people and injured more than 30. In January 2004, a bomb attached to a bicycle killed at least 15 people, most of them children, and injured dozens more in the city. Authorities blamed Taliban guerillas in both attacks. (AP, June 1)

However, al-Jazeera TV (while noting that Mullah Fayaz served as the head of the Islamic scholar’s council, a government-appointed body) also reported that “a Taliban spokesman said he knew nothing about the blast and none of his men had contacted him about it.” (Al-Jazeera, June 1)

See our last post on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Suicide bombers have been very busy blowing up mosques in neighboring Pakistan as well.