A suicide attack followed by gunfire as Shia Muslims gathered for Friday prayers at a mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has killed and injured several people.
Interior ministry spokesman, Najib Danish, told Al Jazeera that after the blast at the Imam Zaman mosque in the Qala-Najara neighbourhood, three gunmen entered and began shooting.
Danish said there were 14 victims overall, without specifying how many among them had died.
More explosions and gunfire echoed from the site of the attack, which police official Mohammed Jamil said was still underway.
“We were here, people were waiting for prayers to start, a suicide attacker came and killed the guards and fired on the other guard at the gate and killed him, then entered the mosque,” eyewitness Ghulam Reza told the Associated Press news agency.
Mir Hussain Nasiri, a member of Afghanistan’s Shia clerical council, said the cleric who was performing the prayers was killed, but did not give his name.
|Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a suicide attack [Reuters]|
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said police were trying to clear the mosque.
“Police have cordoned off the area and are trying to evacuate the worshippers,” she said. “It was a busy time, in the middle of Friday prayer as the attack took place.
“It’s a residential area. There are lots of high rises and the mosque is on a street which is usually very busy.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
There have been several attacks against Shia Muslim mosques in Afghanistan in recent weeks. Last month, 32 people were killed when gunmen stormed a Shia mosque in western Herat province.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for that attack and vowed to carry out more attacks against Afghanistan’s minority Shia Muslims.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies