Lethal Blast Strikes Shiite Mosque in Northern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A lethal blast struck a mosque in northern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, according to a Taliban spokesman, the latest reminder of the precarious security situation across the country following the Taliban’s recent takeover.

There was no immediate claim of responsibly for the attack on the Shiite mosque in Kunduz Province. But it came days after an attack by the Islamic State outside a mosque in Kabul, the capital, which killed several people.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the explosion and said there were casualties. However, he did not immediately provide any tolls, saying the Taliban was still investigating.

The Islamic State, a Sunni extremist group, has long targeted Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan, focusing almost exclusively on the Hazara ethnic minority, which is heavily Shiite.

The newly installed Taliban government, having overthrown the country’s Western-backed administration in August, is wrestling with a collapsing economy as foreign funding remains largely frozen and with invigorated Islamic State fighters who have launched guerrilla-style attacks and bombings across parts of the country.

As Taliban officials shift from leading an insurgency to forming a functioning state, providing security to a population ravaged by more than 40 years of war has been their benchmark. But Islamic State attacks have undercut the Taliban’s promises, leading to swift and violent retribution against the terrorist group.

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