Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in southern Afghanistan that killed at least 47 people.
The blast happened in the Kandahar region during Friday prayers at a Shia mosque, with 70 believed to be wounded, officials said.
It occurred just days after IS claimed responsibility for similar a bombing at a Shia mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed several people.
Kandahar is located in southern Afghanistan, about 115km (71 miles) from the Pakistan border
In a statement, the jihadist group said two of its fighters shot several guards of the Imam Bargah mosque dead, broke in and blew themselves up between two groups of worshippers, one of which consisted of around 300 people.
A witness, named Murtaza, was in charge of security at the mosque and said he saw two bombers.
He said one detonated explosives outside the gate, and the other was already among the worshippers inside the mosque.
He added the mosque’s security personnel shot another suspected attacker outside.
A similar attack in northern Afghanistan was claimed by the Islamic State. Pic AP
A local reporter in Kandahar told Reuters that the nearby hospital, where the dead and injured were taken, has been asking young people to give blood.
“The situation is very bad. Mirwais hospital is messaging and calling on young people to give blood,” he said.
Pictures shared on social media showed the devastation of the explosion, with several people lying motionless on the floor.
Mirwais hospital, where the wounded and dead are being taken, is messaging and calling on young people to give blood. Pic AP
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attack and said security forces had been ordered to capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice under Islamic law.
Suicide bombers attacked the mosque in Kandahar during Friday prayers, which is usually attended by almost 500 people. Pic AP
Sardar Mohammad Zaidi, imam of the Imam Bargah mosque, said the fact IS had struck in Kandahar – the heartland ofthe Taliban movement now ruling Afghanistan – was a shock.
“When the Taliban came, we did not think that such incidents would happen in Kandahar,” he said. “Incidents had happened in Kabul, Kunar, but we never thought it would happen in Kandahar.
“No one warned us about any threat.”