KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A bomb attack today at a mosque in Kandahar killed at least 17 people and wounded dozens others during the funeral of a cleric who spoke out against the Taliban, officials said.
Kandahar’s deputy police chief, Gen. Salim Khan, said the bomb exploded inside the mosque near where people remove their shoes before praying. He said the blast killed and wounded more than 40 people.
Mohammed Hashim Alokozai, chief of Kandahar Hospital, said at least 17 people were killed and 72 wounded, four gravely.
An Associated Press reporter at the site in the southern Afghan city saw body parts and clothes strewn around the building. Pools of blood lay on the mosque’s floor.
Police said among the wounded was the police commander for the capital, Kabul, who had been attending the funeral.
“I was knocked unconscious by the blast. When I woke up, so many people were killed or wounded. People were running around, some were lying on the ground crying. Dead bodies were everywhere,” said Nanai Agha, who was inside the mosque but survived the blast because he was behind a wall when the bomb detonated.
The explosion occurred during the funeral for Mullah Abdul Fayaz, who was shot dead in Kandahar on Sunday by suspected Taliban gunmen — a week after he led a call for people not to support the rebels. The mosque, in the center of the city, was recently named after Fayaz, the top Muslim leader in the province and a supporter of President Hamid Karzai. Kandahar was a stronghold of the Taliban regime that was ousted from power in late 2001 by U.S.-led forces for harboring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.