At least three people have been killed and dozens of others wounded when an explosion struck a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan during evening prayers, a hospital and an official have said.
Italian non-governmental organization (NGO) Emergency, which operates a hospital in Kabul, said it had received 27 patients wounded in the blast, three of whom had died.
“We have recorded three fatalities,” Emergency told the AFP news agency via email.
A security official told Al Jazeera that 20 people were killed in the blast and 40 others wounded.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed there were dead and wounded in the blast, but did not specify how many.
“The murderers of civilians and perpetrators … will soon be punished for their crimes,” he wrote on Twitter
Police said there were casualties but did not give a toll.
“A blast happened inside a mosque … the blast has casualties, but the numbers are not clear yet,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told Reuters.
Witnesses told Reuters the powerful explosion was heard in a northern Kabul neighbourhood, shattering windows in nearby buildings. Ambulances rushed to the spot.
A Taliban intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was cited by Reuters as saying the explosion occurred in a mosque in the Khair Khana area of Kabul.
The imam of the mosque was among those killed and the toll could still rise, the source added.
Intelligence teams were at the blast site and investigations were ongoing.
Despite the Taliban’s assertion that they have brought security to the nation, Afghanistan is witnessing regular attacks by armed groups, many of them claimed by an ISIL affiliate known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), in recent months.
Last week, a prominent Taliban religious leader, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, was killed in a bombing attack at a seminary in Kabul, Taliban officials said. The ISIL (ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attack.
In June, ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul that killed two people.
The Taliban retook power in August 2021 during the chaotic withdrawal of United States-led NATO forces. No country has yet recognised the Taliban’s de facto government.