Suicide bomber strikes near Shiite mosque in Kabul, 4 dead

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck outside a Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul late Thursday night, killing four people, including a leader of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras, Hajji Ramazan Hussainzada. Another five people were wounded, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

Danish said there was gunfire outside the mosque as the suicide bomber tried to force his way inside, but he was stopped by a police officer, who died in the explosion. Another policeman was wounded.

The U.S.-based SITE, which tracks the online activity of extremist organizations, said the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency. The Associated Press could not independently verify the claim, however the IS affiliate in Afghanistan has taken responsibility for past attacks against the country’s minority Shiites.

Last year IS claimed an attack on a Shiite shrine that killed 14 people.

Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which the faithful fast from sunrise to sunset and mosques are typically crowded in the evening hours.

Kabul has been battered by violence in recent weeks. The worst attack in Afghanistan’s 16-year war took place on May 31 when a massive truck bomb exploded at a busy intersection in Kabul, killing more than 150 people