Tue, 19 Nov 2019

Funerals were held in eastern Afghanistan on October 19 for victims of a bombing a day earlier at a mosque that killed at least 69 people during Friday Prayers.

The mosque in the village of Chodari in Nangarhar Province was full of worshippers at the time of the explosion on October 18, Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the provincial council, said on October 19.

'Bodies of 69 people, including children and elders, have been handed to their relatives,' Qaderi said, adding that more bodies could be lying under the rubble.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially Nangarhar Province.

However, a Taliban spokesman in a statement condemned the attack in Nangarhar and called it a "serious crime."

In a tweet, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass condemned the 'unconscionable' attack against the worshippers.

'All Afghans have the right to live and worship together in safety,' he said on Twitter.

The European Union said the attack aimed to undermine hopes for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

One of the wounded, Gulabistan, 45, said the mosque was full when the explosion occurred.

'The mullah had already started prayers and reciting verses of the holy Koran, when a huge boom happened, then all around me it got dark, the only thing I remember is females' voices and then I found myself in the hospital,' Gulabistan said in comments to the Reuters news agency.

He said he had been told his son was among the dead while his brother and two nephews had been wounded and were in hospital.

The mosque attack came after the United Nations said the number of civilian deaths in the war-torn country had reached 'unprecedented' levels over the summer.

In a report released on October 17, the UN said 1,174 civilians had been killed between July and September, with July being the deadliest month in a decade.

In a statement, Amnesty International's Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich said the "killing and maiming of Afghan civilians demands the world's attention.'

'Flagrant violations of international humanitarian law such as deliberate targeting of civilians are not something anyone should get used to or learn to ignore. There must be a determined effort to protect civilians, ensure respect for international humanitarian law, and hold the perpetrators accountable,' he added.

With reporting by AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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