Islamic State bombs Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan

The Islamic State claimed credit for a suicide attack at a Shiite mosque in the western city of Herat last night that killed 29 people and wounded more than 60. The attack is the latest by the group that intentionally targeted Afghan civilians.

The jihadist group, in a brief statement released on its official Amaq News Agency, said that “an immersing attack by two Islamic State fighters” were responsible for the assault, according tot the SITE Intelligence Group. The fighters were identified as ‘Umayr ‘Assim and Tayyib al-Khorasani.

In a separate statement, The Islamic State said that the two fighters “executed upon the filthy Rawafidh [Shiites], harming and afflicting them, and killing among them, by the grace of Allah, nearly 50 polytheists and wounding more than 80 others.”

Afghan officials were unclear if one or two fighters were involved in the operation. Reports indicate that a suicide bomber detonated inside the Jawadia Mosque, and then minutes later another fighter toss grenades inside as recovery operations were underway. The Islamic State said that its fighters attacked the mosque with small arms and grenades, and then detonated their suicide vests.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi, an official Taliban spokesman, denied that his group was involved in the mosque bombing. The Taliban is sensitive to the issue of civilian casualties and distances itself from attacks where large numbers of civilians are killed.

The Islamic State’s Khorasan province has unabashedly targeted Afghan civilians, particularly Shiites, in mass-casualty suicide attacks in mosques and other locations. The group does not view Shiites as proper Muslims, and targets them as viciously as it does Western forces. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Islamic State suicide bomber kills dozens at Kabul mosque and Islamic State continues to target Shiite civilians in Kabul.]

Last night’s bombing was the second high profile attack by the Islamic State in two days. The group also launched a suicide assault on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul; the exact number of casualties has not been disclosed.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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