KHOST, Afghanistan — At least 25 people were killed when suicide bombers disguised in women’s clothing stormed a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan during Friday Prayer, officials said, the latest in a series of bloody attacks on the country’s Shiite minority.
Two male attackers, wearing full-length burqas to hide explosive vests and automatic weapons, entered the mosque in the city of Gardez in Paktia Province, first firing at the worshipers and then detonating the vests, according to the Afghan police.
The spokesman for the Paktia police, Sardar Wali Tabasoom, said that guards had been posted at the mosque because of fears of such an attack. But the attackers used the burqas to get close, then shot the guards, he said.
Abdullah Hasrat, the spokesman for the governor of Paktia Province, said that 25 people were killed and 33 others wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but previous attacks on Shiite civilians have been claimed by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan. In April, 57 people were killed at a voter registration center in a Shiite neighborhood in Kabul, one of a series of attacks on election sites claimed by the Islamic State.
In a WhatsApp message, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied involvement in the attack in Gardez.
Separately, in the northern province of Faryab, seven members of the Afghan National Army were killed and 10 others were wounded in a Taliban attack Thursday night, Mohammad Hashim Astana, the police chief of Shirin Tagab district, where the attack occurred, said on Friday.
Also Thursday night, in the southern province of Helmand, an Afghan commando raid on a prison run by the Taliban resulted in the freeing of 61 Afghan prisoners held by the insurgents in Kajaki District, according to Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the Helmand Province governor.
Farooq Jan Mangal reported from Khost, and Fahim Abed from Kabul, Afghanistan. Rod Nordland contributed reporting from Kabul.