At least 29 people have been killed after a shooting and suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in western Afghanistan, local officials say. Dozens more have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise.
The incident happened at about 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday when two attackers entered the mosque in the western city of Herat. At least one attacker opened fire at security guards and worshipers before an explosion occurred.
The governor’s office confirmed that at least 29 people had been killed and 64 others were injured. Other sources put the death toll at more than 35 and one report said the death toll was as high as 50, but officials could not immediately confirm those figures.
Hundreds of people were gathered at the mosque for evening prayers when at least one attacker opened fire with a rifle, a police spokesman said. An explosion – believed to be a suicide bombing – occurred a short time later as worshipers tried to flee.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attack and the Taliban denied any involvement. The attack appeared to target Shia Muslims who are a minority in Afghanistan and have long been targeted by the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
In the hours after the attack, dozens of local residents attacked a police station close to the mosque, pelting it with stones and setting it on fire. The residents were reportedly angry over what they perceived as a slow response from the emergency services.
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