Suicide bomber kills 29 worshippers in Afghan mosque

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Afghan police officers inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Herat on Tuesday. (AFP / Hoshang Hashimi)
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Relatives mourn victims of a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
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Afghan police inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Herat on Tuesday. (AFP / Hoshang Hashimi)
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Updated 02 August 2017

Suicide bomber kills 29 worshippers in Afghan mosque

KABUL, Afghanistan: A suicide bomber stormed into the largest Shiite Muslim mosque in Afghanistan’s Herat province Tuesday night opening fire on worshippers before blowing himself up, killing at least 29 and wounding dozens more, said the provincial governor’s spokesman Jalani Farhad.
However Mehdi Hadid, a lawmaker from Herat, who went to the site soon after the explosion told The Associated Press that the scene was one of horrific carnage. He estimated at least 100 dead and wounded were scattered throughout the mosque. The attack took place in the middle of evening prayers when the mosque was packed with about 300 worshippers.
At Herat Main Hospital, Dr. Mohammed Rafique Shehrzai, confirmed 20 bodies were brought to the hospital in Herat city, the capital of western Herat province Tuesday night, soon after the blast shattered the late evening.
Hadid said he saw several pieces of a body that was being identified as the assailant. Although it’s not clear if there was a second attacker, witnesses in the area reported hearing a second explosion about 10 minutes after the initial bomber detonated his explosives.
Located just 50 meters (150 feet) away was an Afghan National Police station, but Hadid said the police were too frightened to take action and stood outside the mosque while the attack happened.
Residents were furious the police did not prevent the second explosion, although it is still not clear what caused it.
Dozens of local residents, who are mostly Shiites, attacked the police station pelting it with stones and setting it on fire, said Farhad.
Shiites are a minority in Afghanistan and have been threatened by the affiliate of the Daesh group that operates in the country’s east. Herat borders Iran whose capital Tehran was attacked by the so-called Islamic State in June. Herat has previously been the scene of several smaller attacks on Shiites.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on Herat’s Jawadia Mosque. However, after its attack on Monday on the Iraq Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul IS warned Shiites in Afghanistan that they are targets.
Hadid said he rushed to the mosque after hearing about the explosion. He was told the attacker first fired on the private guards outside the mosque before entering. When inside, he fired on the praying worshippers until his rifle jammed then he blew himself up.


Malaysia to hold election after ‘coronavirus is over’

Updated 48 min 36 sec ago

Malaysia to hold election after ‘coronavirus is over’

  • Muhyiddin’s eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament
  • Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will hold a general election when the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday, shortly after he averted a showdown by winning parliamentary support for his administration’s budget.
Parliament passed the largest-ever budget by a voice vote on Thursday despite weeks of threats by the opposition and some of Muhyiddin’s allies to derail the government’s 2021 spending plan, which could have triggered a crisis.
“God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election,” Muhyiddin said in a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.
“We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which government they want.”
Muhyiddin’s eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament, managing to fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and contain growing dissent in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the largest bloc in his coalition.
Muhyiddin said he met UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week and they agreed to mend ties between their parties and avoid competing against each other when an election is called.
“I know the people are fed up with the unending politicking. The people want political leaders to help them, not constantly fight for power,” Muhyiddin said.
Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections, with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold since September to more than 60,000 as of Friday.