At least 50 people were reported dead by hospital sources after an explosion rattled a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan's Kunduz city during Friday prayers on 8 October, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State claimed the bombing. In a statement released on its Telegram channels, the group said that an IS suicide bomber "detonated an explosive vest amid a crowd" of worshippers in the mosque on Friday. A rival of the Taliban, Islamic State has a history of unleashing targeted violence on Shiites in the Sunni-majority nation, AFP reported.
The statement identified the bomber as "Muhammad al-Uyguri".
The Shiite minority only make up 20 percent of the population in Afghanistan, with many of them belonging to the highly persecuted Hazara community.
Eyewitnesses Say Over 100 People Killed, Injured
A health professional at the Kunduz Central Hospital said, "So far we have received 35 dead bodies and over 50 wounded people in our hospital." Meanwhile, a worker at Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital reported 15 dead and scores more wounded on Friday, according to AFP.
Eyewitnesses have reportedly claimed that over 100 people were killed and wounded in the attack. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has also said that initial reports indicate the same number to be killed and wounded.
The explosion at the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque occurred during the weekly Friday prayer service, when mosques are typically crowded. TOLO News reported, quoting local security officials, that over 300 hundred people were attending the prayers when the attack took place.
The director of culture and information in Taliban's newly formed government, Matiullah Rohani, had earlier reportedly confirmed that the explosion was a suicide attack.
Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, said the suicide bomber may have mingled among the worshippers inside the mosque.
Death Toll Expected To Rise
As per an international aid worker at the MSF hospital, the death toll could rise further, AFP reported.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier stated that an unknown number of people were murdered and wounded amid the attack.
Describing the horrifying scenes unfolding in Kunduz after the explosion, Zalmai Alokzai, a local told AFP, "ambulances were going back to the incident scene to carry the dead."
The worked added, "hundreds of people are gathered at the main gate of the hospital and crying for their relatives."
Meanwhile, Taliban militants are reportedly preventing large gatherings in the area, in case of another explosion.
Graphic images depicting dead bodies on the floor and blood-stained stairs of the mosque have since emerged on social media.
(With inputs from TOLO News and AFP.)