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Daesh claims Kabul mosque attack, as Taliban say destroyed sleeper cell

Filed on October 4, 2021
A Taliban fighter walks past the entrance of the Eid Gah mosque in Kabul where a blast struck. Photo: AFP

Taliban fighters carried out operation targeting Daesh cell in the north of Kabul.

The Daesh group on Monday claimed responsibility for a deadly attack near a Kabul mosque, hours after the Taliban said they had destroyed an Daesh sleeper cell in the Afghan capital.

Through its propaganda arm, the group said Sunday’s attack that killed at least five people was carried out by a Daesh suicide bomber.

Before the claim, the Taliban’s chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP initial information suggested Daesh-linked groups were responsible.

After overrunning Kabul seven weeks ago the Taliban have set up an interim Afghan government, but still face attacks from the Daesh regional branch.

Mujahid said Taliban fighters carried out an operation targeting an Daesh cell in the north of Kabul on Sunday evening.

The “Daesh centre was completely destroyed and all the Daesh members in it were killed,” Mujahid said on Twitter.

Witnesses and AFP journalists heard blasts and gunfire in the capital at the time of the raid, and images posted to social media showed a large explosion and a fire at the scene.

Kabul resident and government employee Abdul Rahaman told AFP that a “large number” of Taliban special forces attacked at least three houses in his neighbourhood.

“The fighting continued for several hours,” he said, adding the sound of weapons kept him awake all night.

“They said they were after Daesh fighters in the area,” Rahman said.

“I don’t know how many were killed or arrested but the fighting was intense.”

At the scene on Monday, AFP saw several Taliban gunmen standing guard, denying people access down the road to the property.

Police pick-up trucks could be seen driving towards the site, one of which came back laden with household items including furniture, a carpet and kitchen appliances.

The operation took place within hours of Sunday’s blast, which targeted a prayer ceremony at the Eid Gah mosque in memory of Taliban spokesman Mujahid’s mother, who died last week.

A government cultural commission official, who asked not to be named, told AFP five people died and 11 were wounded, adding the casualties included both civilians and Taliban members.

“We have also arrested three people in connection with the blast,” he said.

According to the official, the device was placed at the entrance to the mosque and detonated as mourners were leaving after offering condolences to Mujahid and his family.

The United Nations in Afghanistan condemned Sunday’s mosque attack.

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