At least eight people are dead after gunmen waged a shooting spree at a mosque in central Afghanistan.
Five others were wounded during the horrific attack at the mosque in Parwan province, north of Kabul, where worshippers were kneeling on prayer rugs.
Tuesday night was Laylat al-Qadr, the ‘night of power’, one of the holiest evenings during the month of Ramadan fasting.
Parwan governor’s spokeswoman Wahida Shahkar said unknown gunmen targeted worshippers during “iftar time”, referring to the meal eaten to break daytime fasting during the Islamic holy month.
She said they fired on people praying inside the mosque on Tuesday evening.
The Ministry of Interior confirmed the attack in Parwan’s provincial capital Charekar, blaming it on the insurgent Taliban.
The Taliban denied responsibility and said Afghan security forces were to blame.
— FJ (@Natsecjeff) May 19, 2020
The UN has warned of an alarming uptick in violence against civilians in Afghanistan.
A shocking attack on a Kabul maternity ward last week killed 24 people, including newborn babies.
Reports indicate gunmen disguised as police had opened fire inside the hospital run by humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).
Then in a separate attack that day, a suicide bomber struck the funeral of a police commander in the eastern province of Nangahar, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68.
Last week’s massacres prompted President Ashraf Ghani to order Afghan security forces to change tactics against the Taliban and other insurgent groups and relaunch “offensive” operations.
Violence has increased around the country even after a February 29 US-Taliban pact on the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
Afghan security forces on Tuesday clashed with Taliban fighters around the city of Kunduz, a strategically important centre that has been one of the Taliban’s main targets and which the group has briefly captured twice in recent years.
Security forces largely repelled the Taliban offensive with the help of air support.
The Taliban has rejected repeated calls for a ceasefire by the Afghan government.
It denied any involvement in the maternity ward attack.
The US has said it believed Islamic State was responsible.